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Group 2 part 2

Thermal Stability
Thermal stability is a measure of how long something takes to decompose when heated. The more stable
it is then the longer it will take to decompose.

For example from GCSE: CaCO3 CaO + CO2

We are looking specifically at group 1 and 2 metal carbonates and nitrates, which are ionic compounds.

thermal stability increases down a group

The trend in stability is explained by polarisation the positive ion pulls electrons away from the
negative ion and causes the bond to be destabilised.

Size and charge and are the important factors

A small cation with a high charge will polarise the anion a lot i.e. has a high charge density

As we go down the group the metal becomes bigger which reduces the amount of polarisation and
therefore the stability increases.


Group 2 compounds are less stable than group 1

This is again due to polarisation but we are now looking at charge rather than size.

As group 2 metal ions have a 2+ charge, they will polarise the carbonate or nitrate more than group 1
metal ions will. This results in destabilisation and less thermal stability.

Group 1 Carbonates

All the group 1 carbonates are stable and do not decompose: except for Li2CO3, which behaves as a
group 2 carbonate.

Li2CO3 Li2O + CO2.

You can guess the CO2 bit as carbonates always give off CO2.
Group 2 Carbonates

We said above that group 2 compounds are less stable than group 1.

This means that they all decompose to form a metal oxide and CO2 again, as we saw for Li.

e.g. MgCO3 MgO + CO2

Group 1 Nitrates

Lithium is again a pain as it does its own thing.

LiNO3 Li2O + NO2

The rest of group 1 form metal nitrites (note the NO2) and oxygen:

e.g. 2NaNO3 2NaNO2 + O2

Group 2 Nitrates

They all behave the same to form a metal oxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxygen.

For example:
2Mg(NO3)2 2MgO + 4NO2 + O2

They often mention a brown gas being given off for the group 2 nitrates, which is always going to be NO2.

Speed of reaction
All the above decomposition reactions can be monitored by timing how long it takes for the production
of a gas to be given off.

You should know about the tests for O2 and CO2. With NO2, you can actually see the brown colour but
beware as it is toxic.