For simple acid/base reactions - i.e. those involving inorganic compounds - does activation energy ever play in reactions?

Or can we ignore kinetics entirely and just consider thermodynamic factors such as conjugate stability?

I'd be very interested if there were some book or article examining inorganic molecules' acid-base behavior from a kinetic standpoint.


1 Answer 1


Proton transfer, especially in aqueous media, has an activation barrier that is easily surmounted at room temperature or higher. Such reactions are said to be diffusion controlled (the reaction happens at the rate of proton diffusion through the media) or spontaneous. In such cases thermodynamics will control the process. That said, I'm sure there are cases where the base the proton is transferring to, is, for example, surrounded by bulky ligands substantially increasing the activation energy for the process.

  • $\begingroup$ What about electron transfer? $\endgroup$
    – Dissenter
    Jun 14, 2014 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ Generally electron transfer is also very rapid. It occurs often in biological systems, and you wouldn't want to spend a lot of energy (to get over a barrier) for a common process in a biosystem. Electron transfer in other systems (such as redox) is also usually very fast. However, because of the mass difference between a proton and electron, the mechanism for electron transfer may differ from proton transfer in that tunneling through the barrier (rather than passing over the barrier) is more common. $\endgroup$
    – ron
    Jun 14, 2014 at 1:08

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