So I understand the ideal gas law at a basic level, and that a rise in temperature can break bonds, however, I am unclear of how this works in a practical sense.

Say I have a container full of $\ce{SO2(g)}$ and I would like to break $\ce{SO2}$ into Sulfur ($\ce{S}$) and molecular oxygen ($\ce{O2}$). Would simply increasing the heat of the container to $n~\pu{K}$ be sufficient to break the bonds to get $\ce{S}$ and $\ce{O2}$ by themselves?

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    $\begingroup$ Imagine the molecules in motion. As temperature increases, the motion becomes more violent. What do you think happens when the collisions between molecules or vibrations within a molecule increase? $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2018 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ Right, they break apart. I think I got it, thanks! $\endgroup$
    – H. Khan
    Jan 4, 2018 at 18:04

1 Answer 1


As we provide heat to any molecule, the energy of the molecule increases. Specifically, the energy of atoms increases. Using the fact that stability is inversely proportional to energy, we can conclude that as energy increases, the bonds between the atoms become more unstable and eventually break and constituent atoms disassociate.

This heat provided is known as bond disassociation enthalpy, or bond disassociation energy [BDE].


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