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Rate Law quick question

  1. Feb 15, 2006 #1


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    a + b -> c

    the rate law would be
    rate = [a]^m * ^n

    Does m & n neccessarly have to be whole numbers? Could they be fractions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2006 #2
    My ap chem teacher says that they have to be whole numbers, she didn't explain why but she did say that so I'm not 100% sure that this is the case but it kind of makes sense... maybe...
  4. Feb 16, 2006 #3
    Either 0, 1 or 2... and occassionally/rarely 3.
  5. Feb 16, 2006 #4
    I think my teacher gave us one that came out to [itex][A]^{.5}[/itex]. If I find the example in my notes I will post it here.

    Edit: Well I think I just thought of one (and I just remembered that I don't have my chemistry with me tonight).

    Let's say that as A quadruples while B is held constant, the rate law only doubles. Wouldn't that give A an order of .5? Or is this just not physically possible?
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2006
  6. Feb 18, 2006 #5


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    pretty sure its possible, for simple cases such as this where you're given one rate equation, the rate law is related to the coefficients for the reactants or products. You're simply relating each of the reaction agents with each other. With weird molecules, you can also have strange rate laws, there may be one involving oxygen gas O2 which would has a coefficient of .5 for O2. Rate laws are more or less accurate in relating to experimental results, the're not actually laws, they're just used to model the dynamics....the equation itself may be adequate for some set of conditions but it is not the perfect description of it. That is real world does not comply to rate laws, at times it's fortunate that it can be used quite effectively.
  7. Feb 18, 2006 #6


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    adding to what GCT said, they can be fractions or even negative.

    For example, in
    [tex] CH_3CHO \rightarrow CH_4 + CO [/tex]
    the rate law is [tex] rate =k [CH_3CHO]^{1.5} [/tex]
    And in
    [tex] 2O_3 \rightarrow 3O_2 [/tex]
    the rate law is [tex] rate=k [O_3]^2 [O_2]^{-1} [/tex]
  8. Feb 19, 2006 #7


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    yeah, rate laws can get pretty nasty
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