A reaction that involves more than one elementary reaction
is said to occur by a composite
mechanism. The terms complex mechanism
mechanism, and step-wise
mechanism are also commonly used. There are two main kinds of evidence for a composite
- The kinetic equation for the reaction does not correspond to its stoichiometry.
- There is experimental evidence, direct or indirect, for intermediates of such a nature
that it is necessary to conclude that more than one elementary reaction is involved.
There are many types of composite
mechanisms, for example:
Reactions occurring in parallel, such as:
are called parallel reactions or simultaneous reactions. When there are simultaneous reactions there is sometimes competition, as in the scheme:
where B and C compete with one another for A.
Reactions occurring in forward and reverse directions are called opposing reactions:
Reactions occurring in sequence, such as
are known as consecutive reactions.
Reactions are said to exhibit feedback if a substance formed in one step affects the
rate of a previous step. For example, in the scheme:
The intermediate Y may catalyse the reaction
(positive feedback) or it may inhibit it (negative feedback).
- Chain reactions
PAC, 1996, 68, 149
(A glossary of terms used in chemical kinetics, including reaction dynamics (IUPAC
on page 161
IUPAC. Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book"). Compiled by
A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford (1997).
XML on-line corrected version: http://goldbook.iupac.org (2006-) created by M. Nic,
J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN 0-9678550-9-8. https://doi.org/10.1351/goldbook