Water accepts proton and becomes a hydronium ion

FIGURE 2-14 Proton hopping. Short "hops" of protons between a series of hydrogen-bonded water molecules effect an extremely rapid net movement of a proton over a long distance. As a hydronium ion (upper left) gives up a proton, a water molecule some distance away (lower right) acquires one, becoming a hydronium ion. Proton hopping is much faster than true diffusion and explains the remarkably high ionic mobility of H+ ions compared with other monovalent cations such as Na+ or K+.

expressing the extent of ionization of water in quantitative terms. A brief review of some properties of reversible chemical reactions shows how this can be done.

The position of equilibrium of any chemical reaction is given by its equilibrium constant, .K"eq (sometimes expressed simply as K). For the generalized reaction

an equilibrium constant can be defined in terms of the concentrations of reactants (A and B) and products (C and D) at equilibrium:

Strictly speaking, the concentration terms should be the activities, or effective concentrations in nonideal solutions, of each species. Except in very accurate work, however, the equilibrium constant may be approxi mated by measuring the concentrations at equilibrium. For reasons beyond the scope of this discussion, equilibrium constants are dimensionless. Nonetheless, we have generally retained the concentration units (M) in the equilibrium expressions used in this book to remind you that molarity is the unit of concentration used in calculating Keq.

The equilibrium constant is fixed and characteristic for any given chemical reaction at a specified temperature. It defines the composition of the final equilibrium mixture, regardless of the starting amounts of reactants and products. Conversely, we can calculate the equilibrium constant for a given reaction at a given temperature if the equilibrium concentrations of all its reactants and products are known. As we will show in Chapter 13, the standard free-energy change (AG°) is directly related to Keq.

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