Aqueous acids and bases  [ENDORSED]

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Mike Vinci 2B
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Aqueous acids and bases

Postby Mike Vinci 2B » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:17 pm

Are acids and bases always aqueous in order to ionize the presence of water, or can acids and bases exist in any state and still ionize into their component ions?

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Re: Aqueous acids and bases  [ENDORSED]

Postby Chem_Mod » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:07 am

This is a fascinating question! In the Arrhenius definition of acid/base theory, the reaction must occur in water because an acid is defined as increasing H+ concentration in water and the base is defined as increasing OH- concentration in water. The Bronsted-Lowry and Lewis definitions of acid/base theory are much more general and can occur potentially in any solvent environment. Take for example, pure liquid (anhydrous) ammonia (NH3) which has its own autoionization process. 2NH3 NH4+ + NH2-. It is clear that ammonia can behave in both a Bronsted-Lowry fashion (proton exchange) and Lewis fashion (electron pair exchange).

Other common solvents used to study acid/base chemistry are dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) and acetonitrile. These can be environments totally free of water molecules!

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