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Experiment 2

Cycle of Copper Reactions


By

Monty N. J. Attzs
CHM 1101-02
Experiment Performer: 21th Jan 2014
Report Submitted: 28th Jan 2014

Lab Partner:
Faseeh Syed

Introduction
The purpose of this lab was to take a sample of copper wire through a cycle of reactions, starting
and ending with copper.

Data/ Results
Cycle of copper reactions

No.

Primary Reaction

Main Products

8 HNO3 (aq) + 3
Cu (s) + O2 (g)

3 Cu(NO3)2 (aq) + 4
H2O (l) + 2 NO2 (g)

Cu(NO3)2 (aq)
+ 2 NaOH (aq)

Cu(OH)2 (s) + 2
NaNO3 (aq)

Observations
Solution turned green, releasing a
brownish yellow gas. When the gas
stopped being produced, the solution
appeared bluish green.
Solution turned deep blue.
Solution slowly turned greenish black as
it was heated. It ended as a black
precipitate in a transparent solution.

Cu(OH)2 (s)

CuO (s) + H2O (l)

CuO (s) + H2SO4


(aq)

CuSO4 (aq) + H2O (l)

Precipitate and solution recombined,


becoming a cyan coloured solution.

CuSO4 (aq) + Zn
(s)

ZnSO4 (aq) + Cu (s)

Solution became fizzy, releasing a


colourless gas. Pure copper precipitated
(reddish colour).

Table 1
Table 1 shows the results of the reactions. It also gives accounts of all observations made.
Mass of copper wire
Mass of empty beaker
Mass of beaker and dry copper
Mass of recovered copper
Percent copper recovered

= 0.28 g
= 74.80 g
= 75.04 g
= 0.24 g
= (0.24/0.28) * 100 = 85.7%

Discussion
This experiment started and ended with a sample of copper, taking it through a
cycle of reactions. A piece of copper wire was deemed most suitable to be used as
the starting sample. If, instead, a single solid chunk of copper metal was used the
first reaction would have taken much longer as the large chunk of copper would
have had a relatively smaller reactive surface area in comparison to the copper
wire. Conversely, if powdered copper metal was used, it would have dissolved in the
nitric acid at a much faster rate, possibly too fast for proper observations of the
reaction to be made and recorded. Those aside, a "copper" penny would not have
been useable though as they are no longer actually made of copper but simply
coloured copper instead. As such, a simple piece of copper wire was chosen to be
most suitable as it would not react too quickly or too slowly, allowing ample time for
good observations to be made.
When the copper was dissolved in the nitric acid, the solution turned dark green,
releasing the brownish yellow nitrogen dioxide (NO 2) gas. As the reaction ended the
solution, of now copper (II) nitrate (Cu(NO 3)2)and water, took on a bluish green
colour instead.
Distilled water was added to the solution till the beaker was about half full and then
sodium hydroxide (NaOH) was added. This produced copper (II) hydroxide (Cu(OH) 2)
and sodium nitrate (NaNO3) in water, which was a deep blue solution.
The solution was then heated while constantly being stirred to prevent bumping,
this prevented the solution from splashing because of the bubbling, therefore losing
some of the total copper which would reduce the yield at the end. As it was heated
the black, solid, copper (II) oxide (CuO) precipitated from the solution.
After the solution cooled, it went through a washing and decantation process to
remove as much of the remaining sodium nitrate (NaNO 3) as possible. Much care
was taken to avoid losing any of the solid copper (II) oxide (CuO).
Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) was then added to the aqueous copper (II) oxide (CuO) and it
quickly dissolved forming an aqueous solution of copper (II) sulfate (CuSO 4). This
took on a cyan colour.
Finally, solid zinc (Zn) powder was added to the solution. It became fizzy, producing
hydrogen (H2) gas, copper precipitate (Cu) (reddish in colour) and zinc sulfate
(ZnSO4).

Throughout this experiment there were many instances in which minute amounts of
the final copper yield may have been reduced. This may have occurred:
-

whenever the glass stirring rod was removed from the solution and rest on
the counter
if chemicals were not measured precisely, therefore not allowing all of the
present copper to react
during decantation
and also in the end when removing the final copper precipitate from the
beaker some may have remained stuck to the beaker and/or the spatula.

These errors may have been reduced by taking more care during the experiment,
taking all measurements at eye level and by not rushing any steps.
Beyond errors made, this experiment was also limited by the experience of the
participants with respect to conducting experiments (i.e. measurement,
manipulation, observational skills etc.) mixed with the time constraints for getting
the work done. This limitation is to be expected, however, it should reduce in
significance over time as more experiments are conducted, experience is gained
and a deeper skill set and confidence are developed.

Reflections
This experiment was a success for my group. We shared the work evenly, allowing each other to
have equal chances to try/do each job; whether it was recording data, manipulating the apparatus
or measuring chemicals. We alternated parts between each reaction; switching between the roles
of either conducting the reaction or recoding observations. The person conducting the reaction
would be allowed the freedom to measure and manipulate the chemicals and apparatus as he saw
fit while the person recording would observe, ensure that the procedure is being followed
correctly and point out if anything was wrong with the way in which it was being done. As such,
we corrected each other when we noticed mistakes and had fun learning from each other. I
believe we make a good team.
Overall it was quite an enjoyable experience; we love out chem labs!!! { so far at least ~_* }