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Investigation IntoThe Rate of Decomposition Using Acid Rain.

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Investigation Into The Rate of Decomposition Using Acid Rain Acid rain is the main cause of erosion on buildings in cities. You are asked to investigate this process and what variables affect the rate of this erosion. Background Knowledge Acid rain is a form of air pollution created from the combustion of fossil fuels; the fossil fuels contain sulphur that forms a gas when burned (Sulphur dioxide). The sulphur dioxide becomes oxidised creating sulphur trioxide, and this then reacts with the moist atmosphere creating sulphuric acid. Sulphur dioxide + Oxygen --> Sulphur trioxide 2SO2(g) + O2(g) --> 2SO3(g) Sulphur trioxide + water --> sulphuric acid SO3 (g) + H2O(l) --> H2SO4(aq) The pH of acid rain is normally around 5.6 yet it has been known to reach a pH of 2.3 which is 1000 times more acidic than pure water, this has happened once in Eastern North America. When the acid reacts with metal hydrogen plus another substance is formed, e.g. Sulphuric acid + Zinc --> Zinc sulphate + hydrogen H2SO4 (aq) + Zn (s) --> ZnSO3 (aq) + H2 (g) When the acid reacts with limestone (the most damaged building material from acid rain) the reaction creates carbon dioxide, calcium sulphate, and water. This is because limestone is calcium carbonate, CaCO3. Calcium + Sulphuric --> Water + Calcium + Carbon carbonate Acid sulphate dioxide 2CaCO3 (s) +H2SO4 (aq) ...read more.


Also to make the experiment fair we will use the same person stirring and timing the experiment. * Step 1- First set up a burette and carefully measure out the required concentrations of acid into beakers, for each concentration we will have 3 beakers. This will give us an average and it makes the test even fairer because if any anomalous results were gained then we could fall back on the rest of the results. * Step 2- Next we will add the magnesium ribbon to the acid in the beaker. We will time each reaction and record how long each reaction will take from start to finish. We will do this for each of the 3 beakers and then using maths get an average of the 3 readings for all of the concentrations. * Also during the experiment we will stir the solution and keep a thermometer in with the reaction to measure if an exothermic reaction is taking place. Results Concentration of acid ( M ) Time (seconds) Reaction 1 Reaction 2 Reaction 3 Average time Temperature increase (low -->high) 0 (water) No reaction No reaction No reaction No reaction No reaction 0.2 279 251 281 270 18 oc-21oc 0.4 97 89 84 90 20 oc-24 oc 0.6 41 40 39 40 21 oc-23 oc 0.8 27 29 26 27.3 19 oc-21 oc 1.0 18 19 17 18 19 oc-21 oc Analysis Graph 1 shows the relationship between concentration of the acid and the time it takes for the magnesium to dissolve. ...read more.


This may have altered the rate of reaction causing the anomalous result in my second graph. There were other problems like the magnesium sticking to the sides of the beaker or floating to the surface, this means that the whole of the surface area of the magnesium would not have been in contact with the acid throughout the experiment. Some ways to ensure a fair experiment would be to keep the experiment in a room where the heating can be regulated on hot or cold days to a satisfactory level, or an insulated container to maintain a constant temperature throughout the experiment, also we could've used an electronic stirring machine so that the constant stirring may be kept at a good pace without stopping. To make the results even more accurate I could've done more tests to use for a more accurate average reading i.e. use 5 readings per concentration instead of 3. To further the experiment in order to fulfil the brief better I would have to use the average concentration of acid rain instead of using concentrations which are not related to the real world, also I should have been able to use actual building materials with which buildings are made of to get a more true to life experiment. I believe I could've done more with time, as I would've been able to accomplish much more with further experiments and time to think about the processes that occur during the reactions of acid rain. ...read more.

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