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Essentials of Chemical Reaction Engineering by H. Scott Fogler

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10.2.6 The Rate-Limiting Step

When heterogeneous reactions are carried out at steady state, the rates of each of the three reaction steps in series (adsorption, surface reaction, and desorption) are equal to one another:

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However, one particular step in the series is usually found to be rate-limiting or rate-controlling. That is, if we could make this particular step go faster, the entire reaction would proceed at an accelerated rate. Consider the analogy to the electrical circuit shown in Figure 10-12. A given concentration of reactants is analogous to a given driving force or electromotive force (EMF). The current I (with units of Coulombs/s) ...

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