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The Effects of Surface Area on the

Rate of a Reaction
Introductions
Background Information / Research
Concentration of a reactant is one way to increase the rate of a reaction. This increase in the rate
wont always be major though; if you double the concentration of a reactant, it wont just double the rate of
the reaction the association between the rate and a reactants concentration is much more complex.
Examples of an increased rate of reaction after an increase in concentration include things like zinc and
hydrochloric acid. If the acid has been concentrated, the zinc granules will react much quicker.
(ChemGuide/Clark, 2002)
An increase of the temperature of (a) reactant(s) also increases the rate of the reaction. Making
reactants hotter increases the number of energetic particles - that are equal or greater than the activation
energy - in the reactant. This speeds up the reaction because the particles are now colliding faster and/or
with more energy, meaning a higher rate of reaction.
Agitating a solutions particles is also a way to produce a faster reaction. This is because mixing the
particles increases the amount of collisions the atoms have with each other, therefore making the reaction
occur much faster.
Surface area is a variable that greatly affects reaction rates. For example, generally a solid that has
been crushed up into powder will react faster than the same solid as one lump will react. This shows that
the more divided up a solid is, the faster it will react. An example of this would be calcium carbonate and
hydrochloric acid. CaCO3 in a powdered form reacts a lot faster with the acid than it does as a lump of
limestone or marble.
Using a catalyst is the last of the five ways to increase the speed of a reaction. A catalyst is a
substance which is used to speed up a reaction. Instead of changing the product, however, the catalyst
leaves the result of the reaction chemically unchanged. Breaking bonds requires energy
(Lower/Emeritus/Odufalu/Chacha/Mudda/Iskandar, 2014), and that energy can be added in by a catalyst to
speed up the reaction. Examples of using catalysts include: concentrated sulphuric acid on the nitration of
benzene, iron on the manufacturing of ammonia through the Haber process.


Hypotheses
Concentration: if the concentration of a reactant is increased, then the rate of the reaction is also increased,
because if there are more particles of a reactant, then the chance of it colliding with another particle is
higher, therefore the higher the reaction rate.
Temperature: if the temperature of a reactant is increased, then the rate of the reaction will also increase,
because reactions happen when particles collide, and therefore increasing a substances temperature will
make the particles move around faster and collide more often.
Agitate particles: if particles are agitated, meaning they are stirred or mixed vigorously, then the reaction will
be faster, because agitation makes collisions happen more frequently in the reaction, therefore it will be
happening faster (the rate is increased).
Surface area: if the overall surface area of a reactant is increased, then the rate of the reaction will increase,
because making the surface area of a reactant (the solid) increases the likeliness of a collision occurring,
therefore making the overall reaction faster.
Catalyst: if a catalyst is used, then the reactions rate will be increased, because catalysts reduce the
activation energy requirement of the reaction, therefore making the overall reaction faster because less
energy is needed to make it happen.


Aims
The aims of this prac were to:
determine the effects of
- concentration of a reactant
- temperature of a reactant
- agitation of particles
- surface area of a reactant
- using a catalyst
on the overall rate of a reaction.

Materials / equipment
- 3 beakers
- 7 alka seltzer tablets, 5 whole and 2 crushed
- 15mL of 1M HCl
- 15mL of 3M HCl
- 15mL of 5M HCl
- stopwatch
- kettle
- 1050mL of pure tap water
- 150mL of HCl
- 15g of calcium carbonate


BEING DEMONSTRATED IN CLASS:
o 10mL 3% hydrogen peroxide
o 0.1M iron(III) nitrate
o 0.1M sodium chloride
o 0.1M calcium chloride
o 0.1M potassium nitrate
o 0.1M manganese chloride
o 100mL graduated cylinder
o 10mL graduated cylinder
o 7 test tubes

Procedures
Concentration
Increasing hydrochloric concentration.
1. Each beaker was washed with water and dried.
2. 5 grams of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) was placed in each of the three beakers.
3. 15 ml of 1M hydrochloric acid (HCl) was added to the first beaker.
4. 15 ml of 3M hydrochloric acid (HCl) was added to the second beaker.
5. 15 ml of 5M hydrochloric acid (HCl) was added to the third beaker.
6. The stopwatch was started.
7. Each of the reactions was examined and any observations were recorded.
8. As each reaction finished the respective stopwatch was stopped.
Temperature
3 Alka Seltzer tablets in water.
1. Each of the three beakers was washed out with water and dried.
2. The first beaker was filled with ice and 200mL of tap water.
3. A kettle was put on and the second beaker was filled with 200mL of boiling water.
4. The third beaker was filled with 200mL of tap water and then left on the bench at room
temperature as a control.
5. After a minute had elapsed 2 Alka Seltzer tablets were placed in each beaker.
6. A stopwatch was started.
7. The reactions were examined and any observations recorded.
8. As each reaction finished the stopwatch was lapped and the times were noted.
9. The results were recorded.
Agitation
Hydrochloric acid calcium carbonate.
1. Three beakers were washed out with water and dried.
2. 50ml of hydrochloric acid was added to each beaker.
3. 5gm of calcium carbonate was added to each beaker and the stopwatch was started.
4. The first beaker was stirred with a stirrer at a rate of 1-3 rpm.
5. The second beaker was stirred at a rate of 4-5 rpm.
6. The third beaker was a control and as a result it was not stirred.
7. As each reaction finished the stopwatch was lapped and the time was recorded.
8. Each reaction was examined and any observations were recorded.
Catalyst
Decomposition of hydrogen peroxide.
1. The Hydrogen peroxide was diluted by adding 10mL of 3% H2O2 to a 100mL graduated
cylinder. 90mL of distilled water was added, to obtain 100mL of dilute (0.3%) hydrogen
peroxide.
2. A small amount of this diluted solution was used to rinse out a 10mL graduated cylinder
and the 7 test tubes. The rinses were then washed away.
3. 5mL of the H2O2 solution was placed into each of the 7 test tubes.
4. 5 drops of the following were added to separate test tubes:
0.1M FeCl3 0.1M NaCl
0.1M Fe(NO3)3 0.1M CaCl2
0.1M KNO3 0.1M MnCl2
5. Each tube was mixed gently by stirring it with a clean stirring rod.
6. Each solution was observed, and notes were taken at the production of gas bubbles that
formed. Reaction rates were recorded as in the data table.
Surface area
2 Alka Seltzer tablets (crushed) and water.
1. Two beakers were washed out with water and dried.
2. Each beaker was filled with 150 ml of water.
3. One Alka Seltzer tablet was crushed using a mortar and pestle and the resulting powder was
placing in one beaker.
4. The second tablet was placed in the other beaker whole.
5. The stopwatch was started as the reactants were placed in the beaker.
6. Any observations were recorded.
7. As each reaction finished the stopwatch was lapped and the time was recorded.

Observations


Catalyst observations:
2H2O2 (aq) -> 2H2O (l) + O2 (g)

H2O2 with:
CaCl2 (aq) Doesn't seem to be changing color, evolving gas, changing temperature
KNO3 (aq) Tube doesn't seem to be changing temperature, no change in color, no gas being
evolved
NaCl (aq) Nothing seems to be happening
MnCl2 (aq) Nothing happening
Fe(NO3)3
(aq)
Immediate reaction; solution has gone dark brown, bubbling like crazy, oxygen is
being evolved, whole tube is getting hot
Color getting lighter, tube very hot - too hot to hold at the bottom
Urine-like color
MnO2 (s) Very effective catalyst - lots of oxygen being evolved, tube very hot, black mucky
solution

Fe(NO3)3 and MnO2 are definitely catalysts for the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide.

Results
Concentration
test

0.5M hydrochloric acid
vs. CaCO3
1M hydrochloric acid
vs. CaCO3
2M hydrochloric acid
vs. CaCO3
time taken n/a test aborted @
34min50s
n/a test aborted @
34min50s
11min30s

Tests 0.5M and 1M were aborted because there was not enough time to complete them.


Temperature
test

icy water
vs. Alka seltzer
room temp water
vs. Alka seltzer
boiled water
vs. Alka seltzer
time taken 41s n/a test aborted @
23min
n/a test aborted @
23min





0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
0.5M vs. CaCO3
1M vs. CaCO3
2M vs. CaCO3
time taken (minutes)
t
e
s
t

Concentration
Tests room temp and boiled water were aborted because there was not enough time to
complete them.


Agitation
test

stirred unstirred
time taken 1min36s n/a test aborted @ 18min14

Test unstirred was aborted because there was not enough time to complete it.


0 5 10 15 20 25
icy water vs. Alka seltzer
room temp. water vs. Alka seltzer
boiled water vs. Alka seltzer
time taken (minutes)
t
e
s
t

Temperature
0 5 10 15 20
stirred
unstirred
time taken (minutes)
t
e
s
t

Agitation
Catalyst
test

CaCl2
(aq)
KNO3
(aq)
NaCl
(aq)
MnCl2
(aq)
Fe(NO3)3 (aq) MnO2 (s)
reaction? no no no no very fast very fast

Surface area
test

whole tablet crushed tablet
time taken 26min40s 9min12s


0 5 10 15 20 25 30
whole tablet
crushed tablet
time taken (minutes)
t
e
s
t

Surface Area
Discussions (evaluations included)
Concentration: The goal of the first experiment was to investigate what effect changing the
concentration of a reactant had on the overall rate of a reaction. Results from the experiment
confirmed that changing the concentration of a reactant does affect the rate of the reaction. This
was shown when the 2M hydrochloric acid (most concentrated reactant used in the experiment)
reacted with CaCO3 the fastest (out of 2M, 1M, and 0.5M), meaning that a higher amount of
concentration increases the rate of a reaction. The other two tests had to be aborted as there was
not enough time to complete them. More evidence to support the hypothesis that concentration
affects reaction speed was found when the 1M hydrochloric acid had dissolved more of the
CaCO3 than the 0.5M hydrochloric acid, clearly showing that as concentration increased, so did
the speed of the reaction. A higher concentration meant that the solution had a higher amount
of hydrochloric acid (not as watered down), and thus more of it to react with the CaCO3,
therefore an increase in the reactions speed. This test was accurate in that it used the same
amount of CaCO3 for each beaker, however the test could not be finished. If this experiment was
to be altered/revised, more time would be recommended, so that all tests could be completed
and properly observed.
Temperature: The second experiments objective was to determine the effects of temperature on
the rate of a reaction. This was investigated by using three beakers filled with water; one with ice
cubes, one room temperature, and ones water boiled with a kettle. The hypothesis, stating that if
the temperature of a reactant was increased then so would the rate of the reaction, was proven.
This was shown when the hot water reacted with Alka seltzer tablets faster than the room
temperature beaker, and the room temperature faster than the icy water beaker. Through these
results an assumption can be made that there is a correlation between the temperature of a
reactant and the overall rate of a reaction. The way temperature affects the rate of a reaction has
to do with collision theory. All reactions need particles to collide; they cant happen without
collisions. If a reactant is heated up, its particles will move faster, and therefore collide more
frequently, meaning a faster reaction overall. Although this experiment was accurate
temperatures were recorded with a thermometer and any change was recorded and each Alka
seltzer tablet was of the same size, like the concentration investigation, there was not enough time
to complete it.
Agitation: The third experiments aim was to explore what agitating particles does to affect a
reactions speed. This was tested by placing powdered Alka seltzer in beakers with tap water, and
stirring one beaker vigorously. The hypothesis for this test was proven; stirring the Alka seltzer
made the reaction faster. This is because stirring a solution moves the particles around, and this
increases the amount of collisions the atoms have with each other, therefore increasing the
reaction rate. The beaker that wasnt stirred in this test did not finish its reaction, as the test had to
be aborted. Because both beakers had the same amount of Alka seltzer in them, this proves that
stirring definitely has a direct effect on the speed of a reaction. Also like the first two experiments,
the one thing advised if this investigation were to be redone would be to allot more time for it to
be completed; this test had to be aborted too.
Catalyst: The second-last experiment was designed to test the effects of a catalyst on the rate of a
reaction. It used different solutions (listed above in results) combined with 2H2O2 (hydrogen
peroxide) to determine how effective catalysts are in speeding up the rate of a reaction. The
2H2O2 had no reaction with the following solutions:
- CaCl2 (aq),
- KNO3 (aq),
- NaCl (aq), and
- MnCl2 (aq)
but however did react very quickly with the:
- Fe(NO3)3 (aq) and
- MnO2 (s)
These two substances had almost immediate reactions with the hydrogen peroxide, and both
evolved oxygen at high speeds. Their tubes got hot and the [Fe(NO3)3] turned the solution into a
xanthic/urine-like color, whilst the [MnO2] turned its solution black and mucky. Both were tested
for oxygen being evolved by a stick being lit on fire and then blown out; if the stick was put into
the tube and it lit back up, oxygen was being evolved. This test was valid and it was able to be
completed because it didnt require a lot of time to do.
Surface area: The final experiment was an investigation into how the surface area of a reactant
affects the overall speed of a reaction. This was tested by placing two Alka seltzer tablets in water;
one crushed into powder, the other left as a whole tablet, and seeing which dissolved first. The
powdered Alka seltzer tablet dissolved fully with the water much faster than the whole tablet did:
the whole tablet took over 26 minutes, whereas the powder only took 9 minutes. This is because
when a solid is more finely divided, it will react faster (the particles are easier to get to [they arent
all in a big clump where the outer layers have to be eaten away first]). This proved the hypothesis
that changing the surface area of a reactant would affect the overall rate of the reaction. The test
was accurate because there was no stirring involved (stirring would make the test unfair as it
would cause artificial bubbling/fizzing), and therefore the experiment can be called a fair test /
valid.

Conclusion
All hypotheses in this investigation were proven, making it highly successful. The aim was to
determine whether the:
- concentration (because if there is more of something, it is easier to collide with and make
a reaction)
- temperature (heating something makes its particles move around faster and therefore
more collisions will occur)
- agitation (stirring something makes more collisions and the reaction will be faster)
- surface area (the reaction doesnt have to work its way from the outside to the inside of
the solid if it is crushed up, it is much easier to get to and collide with)
of a reactant, or
- a catalyst (lowering the activation energy required for the reaction to happen means it will
be faster, and easier to occur)
had any effects on the overall rate of a reaction. As a result of this investigation, it has been
proved that changing any of the above factors will have a direct effect (in most cases) on the
overall rate of a reaction.

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