Problem: Energy profile for conversion of methyl isonitrile (H3CNC) to its isomer acetonitrile (H3CCN).How does the energy needed to overcome the energy barrier compare with the overall change in energy for this reaction?

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Analyze the diagram for the conversion of methyl isonitrile and examine the EA and ΔE.

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Problem Details


A graph has reaction progress on the x-axis and potential energy on the y-axis. The reaction begins with potential energy 1/3 up the y-axis for CH3NC (CH3 is single bonded right to N, which is triple bonded right to C). As the curve climbs toward a high peak, the molecule bends, and the C-N bond begins to break. At the peak of the curve, near the top of the y-axis, the activated complex forms (CH3 is joined by a dotted line to the triple bond between C and N, which are now arranged vertically). The difference in height between the peak and the potential energy of the reactant molecule is Ea. The curve then declines from the peak toward the products as the C-C bond forms (CH3 is single bonded right to C, which is triple bonded below, angled right, to N). The product, CH3 single bonded right to C, which is triple bonded right to N, is at a lower potential energy than the reactant. The difference in potential energy between the reactant and the product is delta E.


Energy profile for conversion of methyl isonitrile (H3CNC) to its isomer acetonitrile (H3CCN).


How does the energy needed to overcome the energy barrier compare with the overall change in energy for this reaction?