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Calling kinetics experts: rate law from conductivity isnt possible?

  1. May 25, 2014 #1
    Calling kinetics experts: rate law from conductivity isnt possible!!?

    Consider the usual primary halogenoalkane aqueous alkaline hydrolysis reaction

    RX + OH- --> ROH + X-

    We know the rate law is first order in RX and OH-. We could separately represent the drop in OH- conductivity as an exponential decay with a constant half-life (ΛoOH-e-kt) and the rise of X- conductivity as the inverse function of this (0.5ΛoOH-(1-e-kt), taking the conductivity of X- as 0.5x that of OH-.

    In practice, using excess RX, the measured (or modelled) solution conductivity during hydrolysis is obviously the sum of the ion conductivities at any point in time. The mixture conductivity drop-off appears to be an exponential-type decay, but attempts to curve fit (albeit only in Excel) show it is not, nor does it fit a recognisable integrated rate law plot. One can therefore not obtain a rate constant or order from this progress curve, which is frustrating - unless I'm mistaken!! {Its not the case for aqueous hydrolysis as this produces ions from neutral molecules rather than an exchange of ions and the graphs work fine}.

    Furthermore, taking an initial rates approach and plotting initial (ΔΛ/t) vs Λfinal (over several initial concentrations, rather than a single Λ vs t curve as above) gives a straight line, but whose slope does not appear to be a simple multiple of the calculated k for OH- decay on its own. The stoichiometry is 1:1, so the rate of [OH-] decline = rate of [X-] growth, and I imagined the slope would therefore be k x ratio of ion conductivities ... but it's not. Its a smaller number.

    Any thoughts please?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Perhaps I am missing something, but

    [tex]Ae^{-x} + \frac A 2 (1-e^{-x}) = \frac A 2 (1 + e^{-x})[/tex]

    doesn't look like something that can be fit to just e-x.
  4. May 25, 2014 #3
    Agreed, and seems to support the idea that conductivity data from "ion-exchanges" cant be used to investigate reaction kinetics.

    Any ideas on the significance of the slope for the linear plot?
  5. May 25, 2014 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    I never said that. You can use the conductivity, you just have to fit it to the right equation.
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