Log In Start studying!

Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

Arrhenius Theory

Arrhenius Theory

Throughout history, many chemists studied how compounds behave. However, one chemist was particularly interested in how some compounds behaved in water. His name is Svante Arrhenius, and he's the one who came up with the Arrhenius theory. Now, it's time to dive into the Arrhenius theory!

  • First, we will talk about Svante Arrhenius and the definition of the Arrhenius theory.
  • Then, we will explore the Arrhenius theory of acid and base and its limitations.
  • After, we will learn about the Arrhenius theory of electrolytic dissociation.
  • Lastly, we will look into the basics of the Arrhenius equation.

Arrhenius Theory Definition

Our journey into the Arrhenius theory begins with Svante Arrhenius, the chemist who gave the theory its name. Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius was born on February 19, 1859, and died on October 2, 1927, at the age of 68 years. Arrhenius was an accomplished chemist during his lifetime. It's no wonder he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903!

Arrhenius Theory Svante Arrhenius Arrhenius theory definition StudySmarter

Figure 1. Svante Arrhenius,

I'm sure you're wondering what exactly Arrhenius did to earn his place among the greatest scientists in history. Well, Svante Arrhenius was the first chemist to classify acids and bases! Now, let's look at the definition of the Arrhenius theory of acids and bases.

The Arrhenius theory classifies acids and bases, based on whether they dissociate in water to produce hydrogen (H+) or hydroxide (OH-) ions.

Did you know that Svante Arrhenius was not the only chemist to define acids and bases? Acids and bases have different definitions such as the Brønsted-Lowry and the Lewis definition.

For instance, the Brønsted-Lowry definition of acids and bases state that acids are proton (H+) donors, while bases are proton (H+) acceptors. In fact, every Arrhenius acid or base is considered a Brønsted-Lowry acid or base.

Another definition for acids and bases is the Lewis definition. A Lewis acid is considered an electron acceptor, whereas a Lewis base is considered an electron donor.

You can read more about these definitions in "Acids and Bases"!

Arrhenius Theory of Acid and Base

According to the Arrhenius theory, Arrhenius acids dissociate in water to form hydrogen (H+) ions. In other words, an Arrhenius acid increases the concentration of H+ ions when dissolved in water (H2O). For example, when hydrobromic acid (HBr) dissolves in water, it dissociates into hydrogen and bromine ions.

$$ \text{HBr} \xrightarrow{\text{H}_{2}\text{O}}\text{ H}^{+}\text{ + Br}^{-} $$

Now, an Arrhenius base dissociates in water to form hydroxide (OH-) ions, increasing the concentration of hydroxide ions in solution. A common example of an Arrhenius base is potassium hydroxide (KOH). When KOH dissolves in water, it separates into potassium cations (K+) and hydroxide anions (OH-).

$$ \text{KOH } \xrightarrow{\text{H}_{2}\text{O}}\text{ K}^{+}\text{ + OH}^{-} $$

Let's look at a problem!

Complete the chemical equation below and state whether the compound involved is an Arrhenius acid or base.

$$ \text{H}_{2}\text{SO}_{4}\text{ }(l) \xrightarrow{\text{H}_{2}\text{O}}$$

Here, we are dealing with sulfuric acid. Since \(\text{H}_{2}\text{SO}_{4}\) is considered a strong acid, it will completely dissociate in water into \(\text{H}^{+}\) and \(\text{SO}_{4}^{2-}\). Therefore, it is an Arrhenius acid.

$$ \text{H}_{2}\text{SO}_{4}\text{ }(l) \xrightarrow{\text{H}_{2}\text{O}} \color {#00cdb4}\text{H}^{+} \color {black}\text{ + } \color {#00cdb4} \text{SO}_{4}^{2-} $$

Need a refresher on strong acids and bases? Check out "Acids and Bases"!

Arrhenius Theory Limitations

Now, like everything in this world, the Arrhenius theory is not perfect, and it has some limitations. According to the Arrhenius definition of acids and bases, the H+ cation and the OH- anion are fundamental to the acid/base concept. So, it can only explain the behavior of acids and bases that actually contain H+ and OH-.

However, there are acids and bases that do not fit this theoretical description. For example, aqueous NaHSO4 is acidic, while aqueous Na2CO3 is basic.

Another limitation of the Arrhenius theory of acids and bases is that it fails to describe how acids and bases behave in non-aqueous solutions.

It also fails to explain the behavior of H+ in water. As it turns out, H+ cannot exist as ions in water because these ions are attracted to the polar water molecules, forming hydronium ions (H3O+). To account for this behavior of H+, scientists can come up with the modified Arrhenius theory.

The modified Arrhenius theory proposes that acids are substances that dissociate to form hydronium (H3O+) ions, while bases are substances that dissociate to form hydroxide (OH-) ions.

For example, the ionization of carbonic acid in water yields H3O+ ions and HCO3- ions.

$$ \text{H}_{2}\text{CO}_{3}(aq)\text{ + H}_{2}\text{O}(l) \longrightarrow \text{H}_{3}\text{O}^{+}(aq) \text{ + HCO}_{3}^{-}(aq)$$

The hydronium cation, the hydrogen carbonate anion, and the sulfate anion are all examples of polyatomic ions. To learn more about them, check out "Polyatomic Ions"!

Arrhenius Theory of Electrolytic Dissociation

In 1903, Svante Arrhenius became the recipient of the Nobel Prize of Chemistry, for this development of the electrolytic theory of dissociation, which is a theory that describes aqueous solutions in terms of acids (Arrhenius acids) and bases (Arrhenius bases).

The Arrhenius theory of electrolytic dissociation states that when an electrolyte dissolves in water, it separates/dissociates into a positively charged and a negatively charged ion.

Electrolytes are compounds such as ionic compounds, acids, and bases that dissolve in water to form ions.

This theory also aimed to explain why some solutions are able to conduct electricity, and it proposed that these ions present in solution allow for electricity to flow!

The Arrhenius theory of electrolytic dissociation is greatly used in the laboratory when dealing with electrolysis, a chemical process that involves passing an electric current through an aqueous solution that contains ions to split up compounds into its elements.

For a more in-depth explanation on how electrolysis work, check out "Electrolysis"!

Arrhenius Theory Equation

Last but not least, let's discuss the Arrhenius equation, also attributed to Svante Arrhenius. This equation, however, is not related to either the Arrhenius theory of acids and bases or the Arrhenius theory of electrolytic dissociation, as it is associated with reaction rates. Reaction rates help scientists predict how fast or slow a chemical reaction will take to complete.

Reaction rate (M/s) is referred to as the change in reactant or product concentration over time.

During a chemical reaction, changing the temperature in which a reaction is taking place will affect the rate constant, \(k\). More specifically, increasing the temperature will cause the value for the rate constant (\(k\)) to increase, making the reaction go faster.

This information led Arrhenius to derive the Arrhenius equation, which relates rate constant and temperature.

The Arrhenius equation is shown below:

$$ k = \text{A}e^{\frac{\text{-E}_{a}}{\text{RT}}} $$

Where:

  • \(k\) is the first order rate constant
  • A is the frequency factor (also called the pre-exponential factor)
  • \(e\) is the natural log base
  • \(\text{-E}_{a}\) is the activation energy (kJ/mol)
  • T is the absolute temperature (K)
  • R is the universal molar gas constant, given as 8.314 J/mol·K.

The main use of the Arrhenius aqueous is to calculate the activation energy of a chemical reaction, and the way this is done is by using a ln \(k\) vs. 1/T graph. The slope of this graph is considered to be \(\frac{\text{-E}_{a}}{\text{R}}\). So, if the know that the value for R is 8.314 J/mol·K, we can calculate the activation energy of the reaction!

Chemical reactions require a minimum amount of energy to start. This is called activation energy.

Arrhenius Theory Arrhenius equation graph Arrhenius theory equation StudySmarterFigure 3. Arrhenius equation graph

To learn more about the Arrhenius equation, check out "Activation Energy"!

I hope now you're more confident about your understanding of the Arrhenius theory and Svante Arrhenius' accomplishments!

Arrhenius Theory - Key takeaways

  • The Arrhenius theory classifies acids and bases, based on whether they dissociate in water to produce hydrogen (H+) or hydroxide (OH-) ions.
  • The Arrhenius theory of electrolytic dissociation states that when an electrolyte dissolves in water, it separates/dissociates into a positively charged and a negatively charged ion.
  • The main use of the Arrhenius aqueous is to calculate the activation energy of a chemical reaction, and its formula is as follows: \( k = \text{A}e^{\frac{\text{-E}_{a}}{\text{RT}}} \).

References

  1. Svante Arrhenius - Wolfram|Alpha. (n.d.). Www.wolframalpha.com. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.wolframalpha.com/input?i=svante+arrhenius
  2. Moore, J. T., & Langley, R. H. (2021c). 5 Steps to a 5: AP Chemistry 2022 Elite Student Edition. McGraw Hill Professional.
  3. Nedu Llc. (2021). Chemistry made easy : an illustrated study guide for students to easily learn chemistry. Nurseedu.com.
  4. N Saunders, Kat Day, Iain Brand, Claybourne, A., Scott, G., & Smithsonian Books (Publisher. (2020). Supersimple chemistry : the ultimate bite-size study guide. Dk Publishing.

Frequently Asked Questions about Arrhenius Theory

Svante Arrhenius is she chemist who proposed the Arrhenius theory. 

The Arrhenius equation is an equation that relates the rate constant and temperature of a reaction. It is mainly used to calculate the activation energy of a chemical reaction.

The Arrhenius theory classifies acids and bases, based on whether they dissociate in water to produce hydrogen (H+) or hydroxide (OH-) ions.

The Arrhenius theory of electrolytic dissociation states that when an electrolyte dissolves in water, it separates/dissociates into a positively charged and a negatively charged ion.

The limitations of Arrhenius theory include not being able to explain the behavior of some acids and bases, especially those in non-aqueous solutions. 

Final Arrhenius Theory Quiz

Question

The chemist that came up with the Arrhenius theory was called: 

Show answer

Answer

Svante Arrhenius

Show question

Question

In which year was Svante Arrhenius awarded with a Nobel Prize for Chemistry? 

Show answer

Answer

1903

Show question

Question

True or false: Svante Arrhenius was the first chemist to come up with a definition for acids and bases 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

The _____ classifies acids and bases, based on whether they dissociate in water to produce hydrogen (H+) or hydroxide (OH-) ions.

Show answer

Answer

Arrhenius theory 

Show question

Question

The _____  definition of acids and bases state that acids are proton (H+) donors and bases are proton acceptors.

Show answer

Answer

Brønsted-Lowry

Show question

Question

A ______  acid is considered an electron acceptor, whereas a ____ base is considered an electron donor

Show answer

Answer

Lewis

Show question

Question

Arrhenius _____ dissociate in water to form hydrogen (H+) ions.

Show answer

Answer

acids

Show question

Question

Arrhenius ______  dissociate in water to form hydroxide (OH-) ions

Show answer

Answer

bases

Show question

Question

Lithium hydroxide dissociate into Li+ ions and OH- ions in water. Lithium hydroxide is an example of a ______. 

Show answer

Answer

Arrhenius base

Show question

Question

When HCl dissolves in water, it dissociates into H+ and Cl- ions. This means that HCl is an Arrhenius _____. 

Show answer

Answer

acid

Show question

Question

One important limitation of the Arrhenius theory is that it fails to describe how acids and bases behave in _____  solutions.

Show answer

Answer

non-aqueous

Show question

Question

The modified Arrhenius theory proposes that acids are substances that dissociate to form _____ , while bases are substances that dissociate to form hydroxide (OH-) ions. 

Show answer

Answer

hydronium (H3O+) ions

Show question

Question

The _____  states that when an electrolyte dissolves in water, it separates/dissociates into a positively charged and a negatively charged ion. 

Show answer

Answer

Arrhenius theory of electrolytic dissociation

Show question

Question

____ are compounds such as ionic compounds, acids, and bases that dissolve in water to form ions.

Show answer

Answer

Electrolytes 

Show question

Question

What is the Arrhenius equation mostly used for? 

Show answer

Answer

The main use of the Arrhenius aqueous is to calculate the activation energy of a chemical reaction.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Arrhenius Theory quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

Get FREE ACCESS to all of our study material, tailor-made!

Over 10 million students from across the world are already learning smarter.

Get Started for Free
Illustration