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Effect of Concentration

Explains how concentrations of reactants and products drive the equilibrium of a reaction.

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What is the effect of concentration on a reaction in the real world?

According to LeChâtelier’s Principle, increasing the concentration in a reaction adds stress to a reaction which is otherwise in equilibrium. Changing the concentration of either the reactants or the products can change the rate of reaction and the side of the reaction which is favored. 

Credit: Hey Paul Studios
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hey__paul/8402163611/lightbox/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

In the lungs the hemoglobin-oxygen reaction shifts to the right, forming oxyhemoglobin. [Figure1]

The globular protein hemoglobin reacts with and transports oxygen around the body, forming oxyhemoglobin. Oxygenation of blood is an equilibrium reaction. 

Hb(aq) + O2  HbO2(aq)

In the lungs, where oxygen is at a high concentration, the reaction shifts to the right and oxyhemoglobin forms. However the concentration of oxygen is lower in the bodies' tissues, so there the reaction shifts to the left while oxyhemoglobin releases oxygen, recreating hemoglobin.

Creative Applications

  1. How does LeChâtelier’s Principle relate to carbon monoxide poisoning? (use the first resource link if necessary)
  2. What factors other than concentration involved with LeChâtelier’s Principle affect reactions?
  3. Conduct some research on forward and reverse endothermic and exothermic reactions. What are their relations to the effect of concentration on reactions?


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  1. [1]^ Credit: Hey Paul Studios; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hey__paul/8402163611/lightbox/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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