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The Arrhenius equation,


relates the activation energy and the rate constant, k, for many chemical reactions.

In this equation, R is the ideal gas constant, which has a value 8.314 J/mol·K, T is the temperature in kelvin, Ea is the activation energy in joules per mole, e is the constant 2.7183, and A is a constant called the frequency factor, which is related to the frequency of collisions and the orientation of the reacting molecules.

The frequency factor, A, reflects how well the reaction conditions favor correctly oriented collisions between reactant molecules. An increased probability of effectively oriented collisions results in larger values for A and faster reaction rates.

The exponential term, e−Eₐ/RT, describes the effect of activation energy on the reaction rate. According to kinetic molecular theory, the temperature of matter is a measure of the average kinetic energy of its constituent atoms or molecules—a lower activation energy results in a more significant fraction of adequately energized molecules and a faster reaction.

The exponential term also describes the effect of temperature on the reaction rate. A higher temperature represents a correspondingly greater fraction of molecules possessing sufficient energy (RT) to overcome the activation barrier (Ea). This yields a higher value for the rate constant and a correspondingly faster reaction rate.

The minimum energy necessary to form a product during a collision between reactants is called the activation energy (Ea). The difference in activation energy required and the kinetic energy provided by colliding reactant molecules is a primary factor affecting the rate of a chemical reaction. If the activation energy is much larger than the average kinetic energy of molecules, the reaction will occur slowly, since only a few fast-moving molecules will have enough energy to react. If the activation energy is much smaller than the molecules' average kinetic energy, a large fraction of molecules will be adequately energetic, and the reaction will proceed rapidly.

Reaction diagrams are widely used in chemical kinetics to illustrate various properties of a reaction of interest. It shows how a chemical system's energy changes as it undergoes a reaction, converting reactants to products.

This text is adapted fromOpenstax, Chemistry 2e, Section 12.5: Collision Theory.

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