Collision theory and activation energy


  • Collision theory explains how various factors affect rates of reactions. According to this theory, chemical reactions can occur only when reacting particles collide with each other and with sufficient energy. The minimum amount of energy that particles must have to react is called the activation energy.

Increasing the concentration of reactants in solution, the pressure of reacting gases, and the surface area of solid reactants increases the frequency of collisions and so increases the rate of reaction.

Increasing the temperature increases the frequency of collisions and makes the collisions more energetic, and so increases the rate of reaction.

Students should be able to : WS 1.2

  • predict and explain using collision theory the effects of changing conditions of concentration, pressure and temperature on the rate of a reaction
  • predict and explain the effects of changes in the size of pieces of a MS 5c reacting solid in terms of surface area to volume ratio
  • use simple ideas about proportionality when using collision theory
  • to explain the effect of a factor on the rate of a reaction

WS 1.2 Use a variety of models such as representational, spatial, descriptive, computational and mathematical to solve problems, make predictions and to develop scientific explanations and understanding of familiar and unfamiliar facts.

MS 1c Use ratios, fractions and percentages

MS 5c Calculate areas of triangles and rectangles, surface areas and volumes of cubes