Order of Reaction

Equation 3 states that the initial rate of product formation, (dp / d£)initiai is proportional to the concentration of the substrate A, namely a, to the first power. Hence, this reaction is called a first-order reaction. By the same token, equation 4 represents a second-order reaction. Experimentally, the order of a reaction can be determined by fitting experimental data to the following general equation:

dp ~dt kan

The value of n found could be fractions or whole numbers. Order is strictly an empirical concept. When the stoichiometric equation truly represents the mechanism of the reaction, the order and the molecularity both have the same value. In other words, on a molecular scale the reaction occurs exactly as written. These reactions are called elementary reactions. Many problems in food processing involve the studies of nonelementary reactions. Overall rates are usually measured without knowing the mechanism of the changes, including the steps of chemical reactions and physical changes such as mass and heat transfer.

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