The net rate of a reversible chemical reaction is the difference between unidirectional rates of traversal along forward and reverse reaction paths. In a multistep reaction sequence, the forward and reverse trajectories, in general, are not the microscopic reverse of one another; rather, each unidirectional route is comprised of distinct rate-controlling steps, intermediates, and transition states. Consequently, traditional descriptors of rate (e.g., reaction orders) do not reflect intrinsic kinetic information but instead conflate unidirectional contributions determined by (i) the microscopic occurrence of forward/reverse reactions (i.e., unidirectional kinetics) and (ii) the reversibility of reaction (i.e., nonequilibrium thermodynamics). This review aims to provide a comprehensive resource of analytical and conceptual tools which deconvolute the contributions of reaction kinetics and thermodynamics to disambiguate unidirectional reaction trajectories and precisely identify rate- and reversibility-controlling molecular species and steps in reversible reaction systems. The extrication of mechanistic and kinetic information from bidirectional reactions is accomplished through equation-based formalisms (e.g., De Donder relations) grounded in principles of thermodynamics and interpreted in the context of theories of chemical kinetics developed in the past 25 years. The aggregate of mathematical formalisms detailed herein is general to thermochemical and electrochemical reactions and encapsulates a diverse body of scientific literature encompassing chemical physics, thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, catalysis, and kinetic modeling.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Science, Catalysis Science Program (award DE-SC00019028). Additional financial support was received from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (grant no. 2237827), the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, and the University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.
© 2023 American Chemical Society.
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