# Haloalkane hydrolysis - stoichiometric vs rate equation

• Miffymycat
In summary, the stoichiometric equation does not reflect the behavior of the reactants and products in a hydrolysis reaction. The rate expression is incorrect because it does not take into account the changing molar ratios of the reactants.
Miffymycat
This is a question about stoichiometry and rate expressions. Consider the hydrolysis of a tertiary haloalkane RX. The products are the alcohol ROH and hydrogen halide HX. Usually this is done in alcohol-water solvent, where the nucleophile, H¬2O, is in excess (a solvolysis reaction), allowing the order wrt to RX to be determined with effectively constant [H2O]. In order to make my point (and the graphic) more clearly, consider this reaction done under equimolar conditions in a dipolar aprotic solvent such as propanone, but the same principles/questions apply.
The stoichiometric equation is RX + H2O  ROH + H2O
The rate expression is Rate = k[RX]
We know that the [ ] vs time graph for a first order process is an exponential decay, and for a zero order a straight line. I have drawn the following sketch for the reactants and products (solvolytic conditions would show the H2O line at a much higher concentration and as a straight with just a tiny negative slope and therefore awkward to draw on the same axes):

see attached

Several questions arise:

1) Is my sketch a valid representation of the [ ] vs time profiles for all four substances? Are the 2 products formed at different rates, in the same way as the reactants? And does the linear graph for H2O have the same slope as the average slope for RX (and HX as for ROH)? ? Initially, [RX] is falling faster than [H2O] and vice versa towards the end. 50% conversion of RX has occurred where its curve crosses the ROH curve, since 1mol RX produces 1mol ROH – that seems not to obey conservation of mass - ie total moles of X (or O) atoms at that point do not then seem, to add up to the original amount!
2) So is it also correct to say that at any time t, the molar ratios are not as shown in the stoichiometric equation (because it is not depicting an elementary step) – since the reactants are clearly not changing in an equimolar or 1:1 ratio – and that it shows only the overall change at the end?
3) More interestingly, when studying the reaction kinetics, it is usual for the student to find the rate expression by measuring the change in [HX] by successive titration of withdrawn samples against standard base over time, or via pH sensor, and many textbooks/references say this. However, if these graphs are valid, this will not reflect the behaviour of RX and will give the wrong order (zero vs first)! Have I missed something?!

#### Attachments

• Haloalkane hydrolysis png.png
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A few notes:

a) If water and the haloalkane are present in equimolar amounts than the reaction may not follow a first order rate law. For example, the reaction rate could be given by rate = k[RX][H2O], but since [H2O] >> [RX], [H2O] can be treated as a constant that can be combined with the rate constant to get a new rate constant k' = k[H2O], such that rate = k'[RX].

b) It might be useful to make an ICE chart for the reaction, and find the amounts of each substance presence when [RX] changes by an amount y. This should show you the correct relationship between [RX], [HX], and [ROH]. Since y is small compared to [H2O], [H2O] stays essentially constant throughout the reaction.

Thanks again - useful input. I will continue to wrestle with it!

BTW, I could not manage to insert the Powerpoint png directly into the text of my question and had to attach it - how did you do it?!

I uploaded the image to a hosting server (I used tinypic.com) then used the img tags to insert the picture.

If you have any more questions after you give the problem some more thought, just let us know.

I would like to clarify some points regarding the stoichiometric and rate equations for the hydrolysis of haloalkanes.

Firstly, your sketch is a valid representation of the concentration vs time profiles for all four substances. The rate of formation of the products, ROH and HX, will be different from the rate of consumption of RX. This is because the rate expression is based on the concentration of RX, and not the products. Additionally, the linear graph for H2O will have the same slope as the average slope for RX and HX, as they are all formed at the same rate.

Regarding your second question, it is correct to say that the molar ratios at any time t will not be as shown in the stoichiometric equation. This is because the stoichiometric equation represents the overall change at the end of the reaction, but not the individual changes at different time points. The reactants and products are not changing in an equimolar or 1:1 ratio at any given time, but the overall stoichiometry will still hold true at the end of the reaction.

Lastly, for your third question, it is important to note that the rate expression is based on the slowest step in the reaction mechanism. In this case, it is the hydrolysis of RX. Therefore, measuring the change in [HX] over time will not give the correct order of the reaction. To determine the correct order, it is necessary to measure the change in [RX] over time, as it is the concentration of RX that affects the rate of the reaction.

In conclusion, while the stoichiometric equation and rate expression may not fully represent the individual changes at different time points, they still accurately reflect the overall change at the end of the reaction. It is also important to consider the slowest step in the reaction mechanism when determining the rate expression for a reaction.

## 1. What is Haloalkane hydrolysis?

Haloalkane hydrolysis is a chemical reaction in which a haloalkane (also known as alkyl halide) compound reacts with water to form an alcohol and a hydrogen halide as byproducts.

## 2. What is the difference between stoichiometric and rate equation in Haloalkane hydrolysis?

Stoichiometric equation refers to the balanced chemical equation that shows the reactants and products involved in the reaction, along with their respective ratios. On the other hand, rate equation is a mathematical expression that represents the relationship between the rate of the reaction and the concentrations of the reactants.

## 3. How does the concentration of water affect the rate of Haloalkane hydrolysis?

The concentration of water is a key factor in determining the rate of Haloalkane hydrolysis. Higher concentrations of water result in a higher rate of reaction, as there are more water molecules available to react with the haloalkane compound.

## 4. What is the role of the solvent in Haloalkane hydrolysis?

The solvent, usually water, plays a crucial role in Haloalkane hydrolysis. It acts as a nucleophile, attacking the carbon-halogen bond in the haloalkane molecule and breaking it, resulting in the formation of the alcohol and hydrogen halide byproducts.

## 5. How do temperature and pH affect the rate of Haloalkane hydrolysis?

Both temperature and pH have a significant impact on the rate of Haloalkane hydrolysis. Higher temperatures generally increase the rate of reaction, while lower pH (more acidic conditions) can also increase the rate due to the increased concentration of hydronium ions. However, extreme temperatures and pH levels can also denature the reactants and slow down the reaction.

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