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Finding the Empirical formula for Magnesium-Oxide.

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Introduction

Finding the Empirical Formula for Magnesium-Oxide Aim. The aim of my experiment is to find out the empirical formulae of magnesium-oxide Introduction. The empirical formula of a compound tells us the types of atoms present in a compound as well as the simplest whole-number ratio of the different types of atoms. The empirical formula does not tell us the actual number of atoms in the molecule. The mass of Mg + the mass of O2 = mass of MgxOx. Knowing the mass of magnesium used and the mass of magnesium oxide produced you can determine the mass of oxygen used. The ratio between number of moles of magnesium used and number of moles of oxygen used can be calculated and the empirical formula can be written on the basis of this ratio. Preliminary work Before the experiment was carried out, research into moles and related topics had been carried out, both in class and out of class. The empirical formula of Oxygen and Magnesium was found out using chemistry text books. ...read more.

Middle

So the magnesium was heated with a crucible and its lid. At frequent intervals, remove the burner and slightly lift the crucible lid using tongs, quickly replacing the lid so as to lose as little magnesium oxide 'smoke' as possible. Repeat the process patiently until the magnesium ceases to flare up, then remove the lid and heat strongly to make sure that combustion is complete and all the metal has been converted into oxide. You should not be able to see any shiny metallic surfaces. Allow the crucible to cool then replace the lid and reweigh the whole. Record the mass. Fair Test. To make this a fair test we weighed the empty crucible and lid before adding magnesium. This means that the different weights of the crucibles could be accounted for. This allowing any minor errors in the experiments result to be averaged out. To make this a lot more accurate we carried the test out 5 times. Before the experiment we carried out the experiment we cleaned the crucible and lid thoroughly making sure that there was no excess foreign materials of any sort to tamper with the chemical reaction. ...read more.

Conclusion

From a knowledge of the mass of Mg and the mass of combined O, the empirical formula of magnesium oxide can be calculated. There is only one problem with this straightforward approach. It is more usual to burn things in air than in pure oxygen. Air is about 80% nitrogen. So burning Mg in air results not only in the formation of magnesium oxide, but also a small amount of a "by-product", magnesium nitride. Not all the Mg was burned. There is not much to do about this, just make sure that you have followed the method correctly and look out for all the signs of the magnesium being present. Improvements If I were to do this experiment again I would carry it out in a fume cupboard to measure the gases allowed to come in contact with the heated magnesium. The laboratory would not have as many people in it and the environment would be controlled, allowing no draughts of air and risk unwanted particles getting into the experiment. I would also clean any existing oxide off the magnesium ribbon and any impurities. This was not done. Jason Pegnall 11TM Chemistry Course Work ...read more.

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