Arrhenius Concept
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Arrhenius Concept

One of the properties that acids and bases have in common is that they are electrolytes--they form ions when they dissolve in water. Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist who received a Nobel prize in 1903 for his work on electrolytes, focused on what ions were formed when acids and bases dissolved in water. He came up with the concept or idea that acids dissociated in water to give hydrogen ions and that bases dissociated in water to give hydroxide ions. This definition is very useful when we talk about acids and bases as being electrolytes in solution.

These equations (also shown in example 12 in your workbook) serve as examples.

An acid, like HCl, is something that dissociates in water to give hydrogen ion.
HCl rtarrow.gif (850 bytes) H+ + Cl-
A base, like NaOH, is something that dissociates in water to give hydroxide ion.
NaOH rtarrow.gif (850 bytes)Na+ + OH-
Acids and bases neutralize one another because the hydrogen ion and the hydroxide ion combine with one another to form water. The top equation shown here is the net-ionic version of acid-base neutralization. The complete-formula equation for this reaction (shown below) will depend on which acid and which base are reacting. In general, however, it will show that an acid and a base neutralize one another to form water and a salt. If the salt is soluble, it won't show up in the net ionic equation, but the ions are there in solution as spectator ions.
H+ + OH- rtarrow.gif (850 bytes) H2O
HCl + NaOH rtarrow.gif (850 bytes) H2O + NaCl


Arrhenius focused on the idea that acids and bases split into ions when they dissolved in water. In a sense, the Arrhenius concept focuses on what the chemical contains or what is there in solution.

Two important features of acids and bases are readily explained using Arrhenius' approach. They are multiprotism and neutralization.


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