On the Theory of Electrolytic Dissociation, the Greenhouse Effect, and Activation Energy in (Electro)Catalysis: A Tribute to Svante Augustus Arrhenius

Masa, J. and Barwe, S. and Andronescu, C. and Schuhmann, W.

Volume: 25 Pages: 158-166
DOI: 10.1002/chem.201805264
Published: 2019

Svante Augustus Arrhenius (1859, Vik - 1927, Stockholm) received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903 “in recognition of the extraordinary services he rendered to the advancement of chemistry by his electrolytic theory of dissociation”. Arrhenius was a physicist, and he received his PhD from the University of Uppsala, where he later became a professor for phyiscal chemistry, the first in the country for this subject. He was offered several positions as professor abroad, but decided to remain in Sweden and to build a Nobel Institute for physical chemistry using the Nobel funds. He remained director of the Institute until his death. There are powerful lessons to take from Svante August Arrhenius’ journey leading to a Nobel laureate as there are from his tremendous contributions to chemistry and science in general, including climate science, immunochemistry and cosmology. The theory of electrolytic dissociation for which Arrhenius received the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has had a profound impact on our understanding of the chemistry of solutions, chemical reactivity, mechanisms underlying chemical transformations as well as physiological processes. As a tribute to Arrhenius, we present a brief historical perspective and present status of the theory of electrolytic dissociation, its relevance and role to the development of electrochemistry, as well as some perspectives on the possible role of the theory to future advancements in electroanalysis, electrocatalysis and electrochemical energy storage. The review briefly highlights Arrhenius’ contribution to climate science owing to his studies on the potential effects of increased anthropogenic CO2 emissions on the global climate. These studies were far ahead of their time and revealed a daunting global dilemma, global warming, that we are faced with today. Efforts to abate or reverse CO2 accumulation constitute one of the most pressing scientific problems of our time, “man's urgent strive to save self from the adverse effects of his self-orchestrated change on the climate”. Finally, we review the application of the Arrhenius equation that correlates reaction rate constants (k) and temperature (T); (Formula presented.), in determining reaction barriers in catalysis with a particular focus on recent modifications of the equation to account for reactions exhibiting non-linear Arrhenius behavior with concave curvature due to prevalence of quantum mechanical tunneling, as well as infrequent convexity of Arrhenius plots due to decrease of the microcanonical rate coefficient with energy as observed for some enzyme catalyzed reactions. © 2019 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

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