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Le Châtelier's Principle

Introduces LeChâtelier’s Principle and how it governs chemical equilibria.

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The French Bully's Victims

How can LeChâtelier’s Principle be represented?

LeChâtelier’s Principle states “If a dynamic equilibrium is disturbed by changing the conditions, the position of equilibrium moves to counteract the change.” 

Credit: Apoorva Handigol and Savanna Li
Source: Apoorva Handigol and Savanna Li
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A bully prepares to make her move (no one was hurt in the creation of this image; bullying is in no way acceptable!) [Figure1]

Reactions have two sides, just like relationships. Imagine a reaction relationship between a bully and a victim, in which the bully is the reactant and the victim is the product. If more bullies are added or the bully is instigated, the fear goes towards the victim's side. If more victims are added, the fear goes towards the bully's side.

Additional pressure or temperature causes a reaction to be moved or favored in the same manner. If there is an equal concentration, pressure, or temperature on both sides of the equation, the bullies and victims would have equal chances of winning against each other and equilibrium would be achieved.

This scenario is also similar to a seesaw, which does not maintain balance. Therefore, it does not represent equilibrium because one child's movement on the seesaw changes the other child's movement.

In industry. marketers or engineers may increase the quantity or quality of their merchandise so that they may increase their revenues. They are increasing the number of "reactants" in order to receive more "products" so that the right side of the reaction can be favored.

Creative Applications

  1. Watch the first resource video and describe in depth the applying of LeChâtelier’s Principle.
  2. Increasing any one of the three factors affecting reactions to the left side of the reaction causes the right side of the reaction to be favored. If any one of the three factors is decreased on the right side of the reaction, which side is favored?
  3. A major example popular with LeChâtelier’s Principle is a demonstration of a lab using cobalt chloride. Look up this experiment and find out what it is. What do you discover?


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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Apoorva Handigol and Savanna Li; Source: Apoorva Handigol and Savanna Li; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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