Limiting reactant

Chemical reactions rarely occur when exactly the right amount of reactants will react together to form products. One reactant will be used up before another runs out.

This reactant is known as the limiting reactant. This is a strategy to follow when determining which reactant is the limiting reactant.

To determine which reactant is the limiting reactant, first determine how much product would be formed by each reactant if all the reactant was consumed. The reactant that forms the least amount of product will be the limiting reactant. Calculate the yield of each reactant. Much more water is formed from 20 grams of H 2 than 96 grams of O 2.

Oxygen is the limiting reactant. After grams of H 2 O forms, the reaction stops. To determine the amount of excess H 2 remaining, calculate how much H 2 is needed to produce grams of H 2 O. There is enough information to answer the question. The limiting reactant was O 2.

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There will be 8 grams H 2 remaining. There will be grams H 2 O formed by the reaction. Finding the limiting reactant is a relatively simple exercise. Calculate the yield of each reactant as if it were completely consumed. The reactant that produces the least amount of product limit the reaction. Share Flipboard Email. Todd Helmenstine. Todd Helmenstine is a science writer and illustrator who has taught physics and math at the college level.

He holds bachelor's degrees in both physics and mathematics. Updated November 26, When there is not enough of one reactant in a chemical reaction, the reaction stops abruptly. To figure out the amount of product produced, it must be determined reactant will limit the chemical reaction the limiting reagent and which reactant is in excess the excess reagent. One way of finding the limiting reagent is by calculating the amount of product that can be formed by each reactant; the one that produces less product is the limiting reagent.

The following scenario illustrates the significance of limiting reagents.

limiting reactant

In order to assemble a car, 4 tires and 2 headlights are needed among other things. In this example, imagine that the tires and headlights are reactants while the car is the product formed from the reaction of 4 tires and 2 headlights. If you have 20 tires and 14 headlights, how many cars can be made? With 20 tires, 5 cars can be produced because there are 4 tires to a car.

With 14 headlights, 7 cars can be built each car needs 2 headlights. Although more cars can be made from the headlights available, only 5 full cars are possible because of the limited number of tires available. In this case, the headlights are in excess.

How to Calculate Limiting Reactant of a Chemical Reaction

Because the number of cars formed by 20 tires is less than number of cars produced by 14 headlights, the tires are the limiting reagent they limit the full completion of the reaction, in which all of the reactants are used up. This scenario is illustrated below:. The initial condition is that there must be 4 tires to 2 headlights. The reactants must thus occur in that ratio; otherwise, one will limit the reaction. There are 20 tires and 14 headlights, so there are two ways of looking at this problem.

For 20 tires, 10 headlights are required, whereas for 14 headlights, 28 tires are required. Because there are not enough tires 20 tires is less than the 28 requiredtires are the limiting "reactant. The limiting reagent is the reactant that is completely used up in a reaction, and thus determines when the reaction stops.

From the reaction stoichiometrythe exact amount of reactant needed to react with another element can be calculated.

If the reactants are not mixed in the correct stoichiometric proportions as indicated by the balanced chemical equationthen one of the reactants will be entirely consumed while another will be left over.

The limiting reagent is the one that is totally consumed; it limits the reaction from continuing because there is none left to react with the in-excess reactant. There are two ways to determine the limiting reagent. One method is to find and compare the mole ratio of the reactants used in the reaction approach 1.Todd Helmenstine. Many chemical reactions take place until one of the reactants run out.

This reactant is known as the limiting reactant. Often it is straightforward to determine which reactant will be the limiting reactant, but sometimes it takes a few extra steps.

For example, burning propane in a grill. The propane and oxygen in the air combust to create heat and carbon dioxide. You are obviously more likely to run out of propane long before you run out of oxygen in the air.

This makes the propane the limiting reactant.

limiting reactant

This example problem will show how to use the stoichiometric ratios between the reactants given in the balanced chemical equation to determine the limiting reactant. Question: Ammonia NH 3 is produced when nitrogen gas N 2 is combined with hydrogen gas H 2 by the reaction. Which of the two gasses will run out first?

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Which gas is the limiting reactant? We need 3 moles of hydrogen gas for every mole of nitrogen gas. The first thing we need to find out is the number of moles of each gas is on hand. N2 Gas: How many moles of nitrogen gas is 50 grams? One mole of nitrogen is H 2 Gas: How many moles of hydrogen gas is 10 grams?

One mole of hydrogen is 1. Now we know the number moles of each reactant, we can use the ratio from the chemical equation to compare the amounts. The ratio between hydrogen gas and nitrogen gas should be:. If we divide our moles of H 2 into moles of N 2our value will tell us which reactant will come up short.

Any value greater than the above ratio means the top reactant is in excess to the lower number. A value less than the ratio means the top reactant is the limiting reactant. The key is to keep the same reactant on top as the step above.

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Since our value is less than the ideal ratio, the top reactant is the limiting reactant. In our case, the top reactant is the hydrogen. If we had put nitrogen gas on top instead of hydrogen the ratio would have worked out the same way.

The value would have been greater than the ideal ratio so the bottom reactant in the ratio would be the limiting reactant. In this case, it is the hydrogen gas. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Search for:. Leave a Reply Cancel reply.The limiting reagent or limiting reactant or limiting agent in a chemical reaction is a reactant that is totally consumed when the chemical reaction is completed.

The amount of product formed is limited by this reagent, since the reaction cannot continue without it. If one or more other reagents are present in excess of the quantities required to react with the limiting reagent, they are described as excess reagents or excess reactants xs.

The limiting reagent must be identified in order to calculate the percentage yield of a reaction since the theoretical yield is defined as the amount of product obtained when the limiting reagent reacts completely. Given the balanced chemical equationwhich describes the reaction, there are several equivalent ways to identify the limiting reagent and evaluate the excess quantities of other reagents. This method is most useful when there are only two reactants. One reactant A is chosen, and the balanced chemical equation is used to determine the amount of the other reactant B necessary to react with A.

If the amount of B actually present exceeds the amount required, then B is in excess and A is the limiting reagent. If the amount of B present is less than required, then B is the limiting reagent. Consider the combustion of benzenerepresented by the following chemical equation :. This means that 15 moles of molecular oxygen O 2 is required to react with 2 moles of benzene C 6 H 6.

The amount of oxygen required for other quantities of benzene can be calculated using cross-multiplication the rule of three. For example, if 1.

Limiting Reactant Definition (Limiting Reagent)

Benzene is then the limiting reagent. This conclusion can be verified by comparing the mole ratio of O 2 and C 6 H 6 required by the balanced equation with the mole ratio actually present:. Since the actual ratio is larger than required, O 2 is the reagent in excess, which confirms that benzene is the limiting reagent. In this method the chemical equation is used to calculate the amount of one product which can be formed from each reactant in the amount present.

The limiting reactant is the one which can form the smallest amount of the product considered. This method can be extended to any number of reactants more easily than the first method. Since the reactant amounts are given in grams, they must be first converted into moles for comparison with the chemical equation, in order to determine how many moles of Fe can be produced from either reactant.

There is enough Al to produce 0. This means that the amount of Fe actually produced is limited by the Fe 2 O 3 present, which is therefore the limiting reagent.

It can be seen from the example above that the amount of product Fe formed from each reagent X Fe 2 O 3 or Al is proportional to the quantity. This suggests a shortcut which works for any number of reagents. Just calculate this formula for each reagent, and the reagent that has the lowest value of this formula is the limiting reagent.

We can apply this shortcut in the above example. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Categories : Chemical reactions Stoichiometry. Hidden categories: Articles needing additional references from June All articles needing additional references.

Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history.The limiting reactant or limiting reagent is a reactant in a chemical reaction that determines the amount of product that is formed. Identification of the limiting reactant makes it possible to calculate the theoretical yield of a reaction.

The reason there is a limiting reactant is that elements and compounds react according to the mole ratio between them in a balanced chemical equation.

So, for example, if the mole ratio in the balanced equation states it takes 1 mole of each reactant to produce a product ratio and one of the reactants is present in a higher amount than the other, the reactant present in the lower amount would be limiting reactant.

All of it would be used up before the other reactant ran out. There are two methods used to find the limiting reactant. The first is to compare the actual mole ratio of the reactants to the mole ratio of the balanced chemical equation.

The other method is to calculate the gram masses of the product resulting from each reactant. The reactant that yields the smallest mass of product is the limiting reactant. Using the Mole Ratio:. Using the Product Approach:. Share Flipboard Email. Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph. Chemistry Expert. Helmenstine holds a Ph. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels.

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limiting reactant

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Limiting Reagents

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limiting reactant

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Recent Open Access Articles The latest Open Access articles published in Econometrics and Statistics. Advertising - Careers - Feedback - Site map - Terms and Conditions - Privacy Policy Cookies are used by this site. Probably the most often used descriptive statistic is the mean.

The mean is a particularly informative measure of the "central tendency" of the variable if it is reported along with its confidence intervals.

As mentioned earlier, usually we are interested in statistics (such as the mean) from our sample only to the extent to which they can infer information about the population. The confidence intervals for the mean give us a range of values around the mean where we expect the "true" (population) mean is located (with a given level of certainty, see also Elementary Concepts). Note that the width of the confidence interval depends on the sample size and on the variation of data values. The larger the sample size, the more reliable its mean.

The larger the variation, the less reliable the mean (see also Elementary Concepts). The calculation of confidence intervals is based on the assumption that the variable is normally distributed in the population. Shape of the Distribution, Normality. An important aspect of the "description" of a variable is the shape of its distribution, which tells you the frequency of values from different ranges of the variable. Typically, a researcher is interested in how well the distribution can be approximated by the normal distribution (see the animation below for an example of this distribution) (see also Elementary Concepts).

Simple descriptive statistics can provide some information relevant to this issue. For example, if the skewness (which measures the deviation of the distribution from symmetry) is clearly different from 0, then that distribution is asymmetrical, while normal distributions are perfectly symmetrical.

More precise information can be obtained by performing one of the tests of normality to determine the probability that the sample came from a normally distributed population of observations (e.

However, none of these tests can entirely substitute for a visual examination of the data using a histogram (i.

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