The Van't Hoff Equation: Derivation and Applications

Jan 13, 2024

Welcome to Priyam Study Centre, your trusted resource for all things related to science and education. In this article, we will delve into the derivation of the Van't Hoff equation and explore its applications in chemistry. Let's dive right in!

Introduction to the Van't Hoff Equation

The Van't Hoff equation is a fundamental equation used in physical chemistry to relate the equilibrium constant (K) of a chemical reaction with the temperature (T). It was derived by the Dutch chemist Jacobus Henricus Van't Hoff in the late 19th century and has since become a crucial tool for understanding the thermodynamics of chemical reactions.

The equation is formulated as follows:

ln(K2/K1) = ∆H/R * (1/T1 - 1/T2)


  • K1 and K2 are the equilibrium constants at temperatures T1 and T2, respectively.
  • ∆H represents the change in enthalpy during the reaction.
  • R is the gas constant.
  • T1 and T2 are the initial and final temperatures, respectively.

Derivation of the Van't Hoff Equation

To derive the Van't Hoff equation, we start with the Arrhenius equation, which relates the rate constant (k) of a reaction with the temperature:

k = Ae^(-Ea/RT)


  • k is the rate constant
  • A is the pre-exponential factor
  • Ea is the activation energy
  • R is the gas constant
  • T is the absolute temperature

By taking the natural logarithm of both sides of the Arrhenius equation, we get:

ln(k) = ln(A) - (Ea/RT)

Now, let's consider two reactions with different temperatures, T1 and T2. Taking the ratio of the rate constants for these two temperatures, we have:

ln(k2/k1) = ln(A2/A1) - (Ea/R) * (1/T2 - 1/T1)

Notice that the ratio of the pre-exponential factors is equal to the equilibrium constant ratio (K2/K1) due to the nature of chemical equilibria. Thus, we can rewrite the equation as follows:

ln(K2/K1) = - (Ea/R) * (1/T2 - 1/T1)

Finally, by substituting ∆H for (Ea) and rearranging the equation, we obtain the Van't Hoff equation in its familiar form:

ln(K2/K1) = ∆H/R * (1/T1 - 1/T2)

Applications of the Van't Hoff Equation

The Van't Hoff equation has numerous applications in the field of chemistry. Here are some key areas where it proves to be particularly useful:

1. Predicting the Effect of Temperature on Equilibrium Constant:

By using the Van't Hoff equation, we can predict how changes in temperature will affect the value of the equilibrium constant for a given reaction. A positive ∆H value indicates an endothermic reaction, where the equilibrium constant increases with temperature, while a negative ∆H value suggests an exothermic reaction, where the equilibrium constant decreases with temperature.

2. Calculating ∆H from Temperature-Dependent Equilibrium Constant Data:

Conversely, if we know the equilibrium constants at different temperatures, we can use the Van't Hoff equation to determine the enthalpy change (∆H) of the reaction. This is particularly useful when direct measurement of ∆H is challenging in experimental studies.

3. Understanding Thermodynamic Properties of Chemical Reactions:

The Van't Hoff equation helps in gaining insights into the thermodynamic properties of chemical reactions. By analyzing the temperature dependence of equilibrium constants, scientists can better understand and manipulate chemical systems to optimize reaction conditions, such as temperature and pressure.

4. Modeling and Predicting Chemical Reactions:

Chemical engineers and researchers can utilize the Van't Hoff equation to model and predict the behavior of chemical reactions under different temperature conditions. This information helps in designing efficient chemical processes and optimizing reaction yields.


The Van't Hoff equation provides a powerful tool for analyzing the temperature dependence of equilibrium constants in chemical reactions. Its derivation from the Arrhenius equation offers valuable insights into the thermodynamics of chemical systems. Understanding and applying this equation enables scientists and engineers to make informed decisions regarding reaction conditions, reaction rates, and overall reaction efficiency.

Thank you for choosing Priyam Study Centre as your knowledge partner. We hope this article has provided you with the required information on the derivation and applications of the Van't Hoff equation. Keep exploring and expanding your learning horizons!

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