Learning (and teaching) the theoretical basis of chemical kinetics is not an easy task.
Following the diversification of master’s programmes, shorter undergraduate
programmes – typically three years in most European countries – do not provide
sufficient knowledge in physical chemistry courses to allow students to gain a deeper
insight of chemical kinetics. A textbook for beginners, which would contain enough
detail but avoid outdated theories and methods, is not really available. Though there
are several excellent textbooks on more advanced topics in reaction kinetics, they
typically presuppose quite a good knowledge of theoretical basics, so that their
understanding poses problems for the average graduate student.
A modern textbook should accommodate the needs of such students. In addition,
at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century, developments in
chemical kinetics, both experimental and theoretical, mean that it is no longer
necessary to emphasize the customary approach based on the “order” of reaction,
nor to oversimplify emerging systems of ordinary differential equations. Traditional,
not fully justifiable simplification of the kinetic equations and associated “lineariza-
tion” of functions are unnecessary, as there are plenty of numerical integrators and
other nonlinear numerical methods that are readily available. Such traditional
approaches are helpful for the students insofar as they help in understanding old
research papers and results.