Le Châtelier's principle
Levine, Ira N. Department of Chemistry, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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A description of the response of a system in equilibrium to a change in one of the variables determining the equilibrium. Le Châtelier's principle is often stated as the following: For a system in equilibrium, a change in a variable shifts the equilibrium in the direction that opposes the change in that variable. However, this statement is false, since the shift induced by a change in a variable is sometimes in the direction that augments (rather than opposes) the change in the variable. Instead of a single general statement, the response of a system in equilibrium to a change in a variable is best described by a set of particular statements. The following statements are all valid consequences of the laws of thermodynamics. See also: Chemical thermodynamics
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