Reaction Rates

The basis for chemical reactions is molecular motion and collisions. All molecules are in constant motion, and reactions occur when mutually reactive molecules collide with sufficient force and the right orientation. The rate of a reaction depends on the nature of the reactants and on the frequency and force of these collisions. Some factors that affect reaction rates are:

  • Concentration. Reaction rates increase when the reactants are more concentrated. This is because the molecules are more crowded and collide more frequently.
  • Temperature. Reaction rate increases as the temperature rises. This is because heat causes molecules to move more rapidly and collide with greater force and frequency.
  • Catalysts (CAT-uh-lists). These are substances that temporarily bind to reactants, hold them in a favorable position to react with each other, and may change the shapes of reactants in ways that make them more likely to react. By reducing the element of chance in molecular collisions, a catalyst speeds up a reaction. It then releases the products and is available to repeat the process with more reactants. The catalyst itself is not permanently consumed or changed by the reaction. The most important biological catalysts are enzymes, discussed later in this chapter.

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

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