Heterogeneous Equilibrium


When the state of equilibrium in a system has components in more than one phase it is termed as a heterogeneous equilibrium. For example, if we take a container with ice and water at a temperature that is allowing the existence of both the phases simultaneously, such that, both ice and water are present in a state of equilibrium. This state is termed as heterogeneous equilibrium.

In terms of its equation, this can be written as:

In another example, we can consider an aqueous solution of a solid such as calcium hydroxide. We notice that the solid calcium hydroxide is in equilibrium with its saturated solution.

Writing the equilibrium constant for heterogeneous reactions is different from that of the homogeneous reactions. For example, consider the thermal dissociation of calcium carbonate into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide. Here, we can see that the equilibrium constant for the dissociation of the reactant into its products is only dependent on the gaseous component, as the solid and the liquid reactants are considered to be constant.

Here, the components CaCO3 and CaO are solids, so their molar concentration remains constant throughout the reaction. Therefore, the equilibrium constant can be written as,

Heterogeneous Equilibrium

Also, in terms of Kp, we can write

Heterogeneous Equilibrium

Where p denotes the partial pressure. In other words, we can state that, at a given temperature, there is a constant concentration or partial pressure of CO2 in the equilibrium reaction with CaO and CaCO3. To learn more about this topic and other related topics, such as homogeneous equilibrium, download BYJU’S – The Learning App.

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