Peter Waage Norwegian chemist co-discoverer of Law of mass action

Peter Waage – co-discoverer of Law of mass action

Peter Waage – co-discoverer of Law of mass action

Biography & contributions

Peter Waage, a Norwegian chemist born on June 29, 1833 – died on January 13, 1900. Waage was the developer and co-discoverer of law of mass action.

Waage received the Crown Prince's gold medal for a work on acid radicals in the year of 1858. He developed a simple method to determine the alcohol content of beer. Waage also developed methods for the industrial manufacture of gunpowder and fishmeal.

Acid radical

An acid radical is an anion left after removal of hydrogen cation from an acid.

Law of mass action

The law of mass action is a mathematical model that explains and predicts behaviors of solutions in dynamic equilibrium. Two aspects are involved in the initial formulation of the law:

1) The equilibrium aspect, concerning the composition of a reaction mixture at equilibrium

2) The kinetic aspect concerning the rate equations for elementary reactions.

The law is a statement about equilibrium and gives an expression for the equilibrium constant, a quantity characterizing chemical equilibrium. In modern chemistry this is derived using equilibrium thermodynamics.

There is a rapid fall or increase in the concentrations of the reactants and products in the beginning and less rapid later on. This suggests that there must be some relationship between the concentration of active masses of the reacting species and the rate of the reaction. This phenomenon led Guldberg and Waage to put forward the law of mass action.

The law of mass action states that the rate at which a substance reacts, is directly proportional to its active mass and the rate of a reaction is directly proportional to the product of the active masses of the reacting substances.

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