Simulation of gas–solid reactions occurring in industrial processes requires a robust kinetic model to be applicable in a wide range of complicated reaction conditions. However, in literature it is often seen that even the same reaction under specific controlled conditions is interpreted with different kinetic models. In the present work, a phenomenological model based on nucleation and nuclei growth processes is presented to study the kinetics of the dehydration reaction of lithium sulfate monohydrate single crystals. The two elementary processes of the reaction, nucleation and nuclei growth, are characterized and quantified as a function of temperature by using optical microscopy experiments. The in-situ measured characteristics of the dehydration reaction provided confirmatory evidence that the rate of nucleation obeys an exponential law and the rate of nuclei growth is approximately constant. With knowledge acquired from the optical observations as inputs of the kinetic model, the fractional conversion of the dehydration reaction was calculated and compared with experimental results from thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). A satisfactory comparison was found both in isothermal and non-isothermal conditions. It is demonstrated that this knowledge-based model has a great potential to represent the gas–solid reaction kinetics in a wide range of process conditions regarding temperature, pressure and particle geometry.