# Are Limiting Reactants always completely consumed?

• Qube
In summary: In this case, the pressure would be 5.775 atm.In summary, the homework statement says that the limiting reactant in a chemical reaction is the one that remains when the reaction stops when the limiting reactant is completely consumed. In this case, the limiting reactant is oxygen and with 4.5 moles of oxygen only 2.25 moles of carbon dioxide can be formed.
Qube
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## Homework Statement

I was doing a gas law stoichiometry problem -

## Homework Equations

Pressure is proportional to the number of moles. We can convert pressure to moles. 2.4 moles of CO and 4.5 moles of O2 react to form CO2.

The balanced equation is 2CO + O2 --> 2CO2.

## The Attempt at a Solution

The limiting reactant is oxygen. With 4.5 moles of oxygen only 2.25 moles of carbon dioxide can be formed.

Even though oxygen is a limiting reactant, this does not imply that oxygen is completely consumed, correct? I somehow had the misconception that limiting reactants were completely consumed, so I incorrectly calculated the final pressure as the pressure of the carbon dioxide generated (2.25 atm) added to the pressure of whatever carbon monoxide remained (0.15 atm, since 2.25 moles of CO was used).

I thought of an analogy - imagine a car. There must be a certain ratio of fuel and oxygen. Fuel is the limiting reactant in a flooded engine. THERE IS STILL FUEL. Although fuel is limiting, it doesn't mean there is 0 fuel. There simply way too much oxygen for the fuel to combust. (ETA: I googled flooded engines and I'm still not completely clear on which is in excess but either way, it's clear that one component - either fuel or oxygen - is preventing a car from starting up; that one component is limiting, but neither is 0. Not a car mechanic here!)

So ... two things really. Is my work and reasoning correct? Also, where may this misconception that the limiting reactant is completely spent have come from?

----

ETA: googling "limiting reactant completely consumed" (https://www.google.com/search?q=lim...limiting+reactant+completely+consumed&spell=1)

seems to yield reinforcements of my misconception:

Excess Reactant - The reactant in a chemical reaction that remains when a reaction stops when the limiting reactant is completely consumed

One reactant will be completely used up before the others

The reactant that is completely consumed in a reaction is called the limiting reactant or limiting reagent because it determines, or limits, the amount of product

So ... is the LR completely consumed?

Last edited:
The limiting reactant is oxygen. With 4.5 moles of oxygen only 2.25 moles of carbon dioxide can be formed.
I think you got a factor of 2 wrong here.

I think in this reaction, you can safely assume that one reactant will get consumed completely (unless it gets really hot). In other reactions, this can be different.

1 person
mfb said:
I think you got a factor of 2 wrong here.

I think in this reaction, you can safely assume that one reactant will get consumed completely (unless it gets really hot). In other reactions, this can be different.

Ah. I see. 4.5 moles of oxygen results in 9 moles of CO2. Oopsie.

But in general, about LR. Let's say we're making sandwiches with 1 slice of ham for every 2 slices of cheese. We have 10 slices of ham and 9 slices of cheese.

With 10 slices of ham we can make 10 sandwiches, if cheese is unlimited.

With 9 slices of cheese we can make 4 sandwiches, if ham is unlimited.

Cheese is the LR.

We can only make 4 sandwiches. However, the LR isn't completely used up. 4 sandwiches consumes 8 slices of cheese, and we have 1 slice left over.

Well, 1 atom in the whole substance does not matter in chemical reactions.

Limiting reagent is never completely consumed, it is all a matter of chemical equilibrium. What we typically mean by that is that amount left unreacted is pretty small compared with what have reacted. "Pretty small" doesn't have a well defined meaning, sometimes it will mean 1%, sometimes 10-10 of the initial amount.

I'm doing this problem, and I keep getting 5.775 atm of pressure, which doesn't exactly equal 5.70 atm. Even if the problem wanted 3 sig. figs, then shouldn't the answer be instead 5.80 atm?

I converted pressure to moles and I know that we get 2.25 moles of CO2 and that means we only use 1.125 moles of O2 and 2.25 moles of CO from the coefficients.

That means total pressure is 2.25 + 3.375 + 0.15 = 5.775.

You are still repeating the same error. 2.25 moles of CO2 is effect of your mistake, it has nothing to do with the real answer.

In this case you can easily assume equilibrium is shifted so far to the right equilibrium amounts of oxygen and CO don't matter at all.

## 1. What is a limiting reactant?

A limiting reactant is the reactant that is completely consumed in a chemical reaction and determines the amount of product that can be formed.

## 2. Can a limiting reactant be partially consumed?

No, a limiting reactant is always completely consumed in a chemical reaction. This is because it is present in the smallest amount and therefore gets used up first.

## 3. How do you determine the limiting reactant in a chemical reaction?

To determine the limiting reactant, you need to compare the mole ratio of the reactants to the coefficients in the balanced chemical equation. Whichever reactant has a smaller mole ratio is the limiting reactant.

## 4. Can a reactant that is not the limiting reactant be completely consumed?

Yes, it is possible for a reactant that is not the limiting reactant to be completely consumed if the limiting reactant runs out first. This can happen if the mole ratios of the reactants are not in the correct proportion.

## 5. What happens if there is an excess of a reactant in a chemical reaction?

If there is an excess of a reactant, it means that there is more of that reactant than is needed to completely react with the other reactant(s). This excess reactant will not be completely consumed and will be left over after the reaction is complete.

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