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How does one use enthalpy changes of metal reactions to experimentally test the reactivity series of common metals?

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Chemistry Planning A + B: The problem: The problem that I will investigate is how to use enthalpy changes of metal reactions to experimentally test the reactivity series of common metals. Therefore the area that I am looking at is reactions involving metals and the heat energy that is evolved when these take place. In brief the reactivity series of metals is a list in which metals are ranked according to their reactivity, from the most reactive metals (such as Pottassium) at the top to Gold the least reactive metal at the bottom. Therefore my research question is "Can enthalpy changes of reaction be used to predict the place of a metal in the metals reactivity series?" Hypothesis: "In reactions between various metals and the same other single reactant, the more reactive the reacting metal the stronger will be the bonds in the metal product formed . This will be observable through more exothermic enthalpy changes of reaction for more reactive metals." The hypothesis is the prediction which should help me to answer the research question. If the hypothesis is proved correct through experimentation then I can apply it to predict the place of the metals I have investigated in the reactivity series. ...read more.


I have chosen this reaction because it is simple and safe, and because based on the standard electrode potential for the reduction of copper ions to copper metal it should be spontaneous with a good number of common metals. For example: The reaction between Lithium metal and copper sulphate. The half cell equations are: ==> Cu2+ + 2e- Cu = + 0.34 v ==> 2 Li 2 Li+ + 2e- = + 6.06 v ==> Thus the reaction will be spontaneous with a positive S.E.P of 6.4 v I can then measure the heat given off by this reaction to calculate the enthalpy change of the reaction. I calculate the enthalpy change using: ? H = m c ( Tinitial - Tfinal) in joules, where c = specific heat capacity water, m = mass of copper sulphate, and T = temperature. The controlled variables in the investigation are: * The quantity of copper sulphate used. (25 cubic centimetres) * The quantity of metal used. (In excess in all cases) The independent variable is the choice of metal in the experiment. This changes from experiment to experiment. ...read more.


A graph of time on the x axis and temperature on the y axis will be plotted for each reaction. I will draw a best fit line through the points with a positive gradient and another through the points with negative gradients. Where these two line cross will be the true peak temperature and thus enthalpy change of the reaction. This is because heat loss error will mean that the temperature measured will not take account of all the heat that has been generated by the reaction. Temp (oC) Time (s) To provide sufficient data for analyses I have chosen five metals with which to conduct the reaction. I have chosen them on the basis that I expect them to react with copper ions on the basis of their standard electrode potentials and that I expect them to cover a reasonable range of the reactivity series, so that their should be significant differences in the enthalpy change values for each of them. Therefore the metals for which I shall measure the enthalpy change of reaction with copper sulphate are: * Lithium * Magnesium * Zinc * Nickel * Lead ...read more.

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