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Although K, the equilibrium constant, and Q, the reaction quotient, uses the same formula to find the value, they are not the same. The concentrations of reactant and product in K are in equilibrium, while the concentrations of reactant and product in Q have yet to reach equilibrium.
K represents the equilibrium constant when the reaction is in equilibrium. Q represents the reaction quotient and is the quotient of activities of products and reactants. Typically you compare the determined q value to a given k value to determine which direction the reaction proceeds.
K is used for when the reaction is at equilibrium, while Q is used for when the reaction is not. A reaction at equilibrium moves at a different rate than when it’s not at equilibrium. Therefore, they’re different numbers that you can compare to determine which direction the reaction favors.
K, the equilibrium constant, is a constant, which at some set conditions, is a constant at equilibrium. Q is calculated the same way but is calculated to see whether the reaction proceeds forward or backward to reach equilibrium.
K is the equilibrium constant with the equilibrium values of the product and reactants. Q is used when the reaction is not at equilibrium and is used to predict what's favored as the reaction proceeds.
Q can be taken at any point in a reaction while K is taken when the reaction has reached equilibrium. If K = Q, then the reaction was in equilibrium at the time Q was taken. K and Q can be compared to each other in order to determine if the forward or reverse reaction is favored.
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