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Factors that Affect the Chemical Reaction Rate

Reaction Kinetics


A catalyst permits a different energy pathway for a chemical reaction.

A catalyst permits a different energy pathway for a chemical reaction which has a lower activation energy. The catalyst is not consumed in the chemical reaction.

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It's useful to be able to predict whether an action will affect the rate at which a chemical reaction proceeds. There are several factors that can influence the rate of a chemical reaction. In general, a factor that increases the number of collisions between particles will increase the reaction rate and a factor that decreases the number of collisions between particles will decrease the chemical reaction rate.

Concentration of Reactants

A higher concentration of reactants leads to more effective collisions per unit time, which leads to an increasing reaction rate (except for zero order reactions). Similarly, a higher concentation of products tends to be associated with a lower reaction rate. Use the partial pressure of reactants in a gaseous state as a measure of their concentration.


Usually, an increase in temperature is accompanied by an increase in the reaction rate. Temperature is a measure of the kinetic energy of a system, so higher temperature implies higher average kinetic energy of molecules and more collisions per unit time. A general rule of thumb for most (not all) chemical reactions is that the rate at which the reaction proceeds will approximately double for each 10°C increase in temperature. Once the temperature reaches a certain point, some of the chemical species may be altered (e.g., denaturing of proteins) and the chemical reaction will slow or stop.


The rate of a chemical reaction depends on the medium in which the reaction occurs. It may make a difference whether a medium is aqueous or organic; polar or nonpolar; or liquid, solid, or gaseous.

Presence of Catalysts and Competitors

Catalysts (e.g., enzymes) lower the activation energy of a chemical reaction and increase the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the process. Catalysts work by increasing the frequency of collisions between reactants, altering the orientation of reactants so that more collisions are effective, reducing intramolecular bonding within reactant molecules, or donating electron density to the reactants. The presence of a catalyst helps a reaction to proceed more quickly to equilibrium. Aside from catalysts, other chemical species can affect a reaction. The quantity of hydrogen ions (the pH of aqueous solutions) can alter a reaction rate. Other chemical species may compete for a reactant or alter orientation, bonding, electron density, etc., thereby decreasing the rate of a reaction.

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