Differential Equations for Chemical Kinetics
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A wide variety of chemical reactions can be modeled with coupled (often nonlinear) differential equations. These equations describe the time evolution of the concentrations of the various chemical species: reactants, intermediaries, catalysts, and products. Such problems are quite simple to set up and solve with Mathematica. The function NDSolve numerically integrates the differential equations that arise. The resulting concentrations can be plotted as a function of time and can also be used to accurately compute the expected concentration of the molecular species.
Reaction with an intermediate
In the reaction , the mechanism proceeds through an intermediate species .
The rate equations corresponding to this reaction are
where , , and represent the concentrations of the species , , and at a time at a constant temperature. The parameters , , and , the rate constants, are temperature dependent. If the temperature of the mixture of reactants is allowed to change, then an additional set of equations is needed to model the temperature variation of , , and with time.
Although these equations do not have an explicit analytic solution, they can be numerically integrated using the built in numerical differential equation solver, NDSolve. Here is the solution for a particular choice of the rate constants , , and . In this example the initial concentrations of and are equal and that of the intermediary is zero.
The result is expressed in terms of a set of replacement rules that give the functions as InterpolatingFunction objects. The notation , for example, is a shorthand for the numerical information needed by the interpolation algorithm to reproduce the solution.
Here is plot of the result. The concentration of was multiplied by a factor of 50 so that it can be seen in the graph on the same scale as and ). The colors of the curves for , , and , are black, red, and green respectively.
For this example, as the reaction proceeds, the intermediary is created and then settles down to an approximately steady state value.
Reaction with Catalysts
The rate equations corresponding to this reaction are
Here is a particular case of the integration of these differential equations. The initial concentrations of and are equal and the rate constants and chosen as shown.
Here is plot of the result. The colors of the curves for , , , and are black, red, green, and blue respectively.
It can be seen that, as the reaction proceeds towards completion, the concentrations of the catalysts and eventually return to their initial values.
