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_The Ideal Gas Constant

The ideal gas law is represented by the formula PV = nRT, where R is the ideal gas constant. this laboratory investigation you will experimentally determine the value of R. To do this, you must first determine the values of the other variables in the ideal gas equation. You will generate and collect a sample of hydrogen gas and determine its volume, temperature, pressure, and the number of moles produced under labora-' tory conditions. The hydrogen gas is generated in a graduated cy'linder from the reaction between magnesium and hydrochloric acid. By wrapping the magnesium ribbon in a copper wire cage, you can ensure that the magnesium will remain in the acid environment. Hydrochloric acid is in excess in the reaction so that the moles of hydrogen gas produced may be determined from the moles of magnesium that react.



Pre-Lab Discussion
Read the entire laboratory investigation and the relevant pages of your textbook. Then answer the questions that follow. 1. Describe how the values for P, V, n, and T are obtained in this

2. Why do you think copper wire is used to make the cage for the magnesium ribbon in this reaction? _

3. When the graduated cylinder is inverted, why does the acid flow downward? _

4. Why is it important to tap the side of the graduated cylinder before reading the volume of gas collected? _

5. How can you protect yourself from the hazards of working with 3 M HCl? _

chemical splash goggles laboratory apron metric ruler 1.0 cm or less of magnesium ribbon 25 em thin-~auge copper wire one-hole rubber stopper to fit graduated cylinder graduated cylinder, 10-mL beaker, 400-mL tap water latex gloves micropipet 3.0 M hydrochloric acid {HCl) wash bottle thermometer table of vapor pressures of water

Wear your goggles and lab apron at all times during the investigation. Hydrochloric acid (Hel) is corrosive. Avoid spills and contact with your skin and clothing. If HCl comes in contact with your-skin or clothing, inform your teacher and flush the acid with large quantities of water. Neutralize any acid spills on the work surface with baking soda. When inserting the stopper into the graduated cylinder, tap it down gently to avoid breaking the top of the cylinder. Note the caution alert symbols here and with certain steps of the Procedure. Refer to page xi for the specific precautions associated with each symbol.




1. Put on your goggles and lab apron. 2. Using a metric ruler, measure and record the exact length of the piece of magnesium (Mg) ribbon provided by your teacher. The ribbon should be no longer than 1.0 em. 3. Your teacher will give you the mass of 100.0 em of Mg ribbon. Record this mass, which will be used as a conversion factor to determine the mass of your piece of Mg ribbon. 4. Wrap the copper wire around the magnesium ribbon, making a cage that surrounds the ribbon, as shown in Figure 38-1 (left). Leave a handle of copper wire approximately 6 em long.

Mg inside Cu wire cage

5. Insert the handle end of the copper wire into the one-hole rubber stopper as shown in Figure 38-1 (right). When the stopper is' inserted into the graduated cylinder, the copper wire cage and Mg ribbon will be inside.the cylinder. 6. Fill the 400-mL beaker or other container approximately full with water. half

7. Put on latex gloves. Use a dropper or micropipet to add approximately 3 mL of 3.0 M hydrochloric acid (HCl) to the graduated cylinder. CAUTION: Hydrochloric acid is corrosive. Avoid contacL

with skin or clothing. Flush any spills with water and notify your teacher.
8. Using the wash bottle, gently fill the graduated cylinder by drizzling water down the cylinder's inner side to avoid mixing. Because HCl has a greater density than water, the acid will remain at the bottom of the cylinder. Insert the stopper into the graduated cylinder by tapping gently so as to avoid cracking the cylinder. The copper wire cage should be suspended at the top of the cylinder. Holding your finger over the hole in the rubber stopper, quickly invert the cylinder into the beaker of water. When the top of the cylinder is-underwater you may remove your finger. Rest the cylinder in the beaker. 10. Notice the appearance of the acid solution inside the cylinder. Record any indication of a chemical reaction . 11. When the Mg ribbon is no longer reacting, tap the side of the .cylinder to release any trapped bubbles. 12. Let the cyiinder sit ror 5 minutes. Using the therrnODleter, read and record the temperature the beaker.


.. ,.


13. Determine and record the atmospheric pressure in the lab. Determine the water vapor pressure from a reference table. 14. Lift the graduated cylinder slightly, until the levels of water inside and outside the cylinder are the same. See Figure 38-2 .

..Mg ribbon inside Cu wire cage rubber stopper

15. Read and record the volume of gas in the cylinder. Remember that you are reading-an inverted-cylinder. 16. After reading the volume of gas, remove the cylinder from the -beaker and dispose of the contents'of the beaker by pouring it down the drain. Turn the cylinder right side up, remove the stopper holding the copper cage, and dispose of any remaining liquid down the sink. Note the appearance of the copper wire. ,

s::t 17.

Clean up your work area and wash your hands before leaving the laboratory.

length of Mg ribbon mass of 100.0 em Mg ribbon temperature of the reaction system

atmospheric pressure water vapor pressure at system temperature volume of gas produced

Q Calculations
000 000


Calcu.late the number of moles of Mg that reacted, using the length of Mg ribbon you used, the mass of 100.0 em :Mg ribbon provided by your teacher, and the molar mass of Mg.

moles Mg = 2.

Write the balanced equation for the reaction between Mg and HCl.


Determine the value of n. Use the balanced equation and the number of moles of Mg that reacted to calculate the moles of H2 produced.


Determine the value of P. Calculate the pressure of the H2 gas collected by subtracting the water vapor pressure from the atmospheric pressure. Convert your pressure units from rom Hg to atmospheres.

5. Determine the value of V. Calculate the volume of gas collected in liters. Remember that you must read the bottom of the meniscus, but that the scale is inverted. Then convert the volume units from mL to L.

6. Determine the value of T. Convert the temperature units of the gas collected from DC to kelvins.

7. Using the pressure, volume, temperature, and moles of Hz, calculate the value of the gas constant where R ::!: PV / nT. Include all units in your answer.

Critical Thinking: Analysis and Conclusions

1. Why is it necessary to subtract the value for water vapor pressure from atmospheric pressure to determine the pressure of the H2 gas?

(Interpreting data)

2. What evidence of a chemical reaction did you observe? (Making


3. At the end of the reaction,. how did the appearance of the copper wire compare with that of the magnesium ribbon? What can you conclude about the effect of HCl on copper wire? (Makingcomparisans,

drawing conclusions)


4. Using the accepted value for the. ideal gas constant, determine the percent deviation of the value you calculated. Then explain the possible sources of experimental error in this investigation. (Interpreting



Critical Thinking: Applications

What is the importance of your choice of units in expressing the value of the ideal gas constant? (Making judgments)

Q 2. Convert the pressure of dry H2 gas to kilopascals and calculate the


value of R in kPa-L/ mol-K. (Applying concepts)


If all other conditions remained the same, how would the value of R change if your investigation made use of a gas other than hydrogen? Explain. (Making predictions)


How could you demonstrate that the copper wire did not participate in the chemical reaction? (Designing experiments)

Going Further
1. Under the supervision of your teacher, try this experiment with other metals, such as iron, aluminum, or zinc. Before you begm~"find out the safety precautions you must follow. 2. Use the experimental value you found for R to calculate the molar~ volume of a gas at STP. Compare your calculation to the accepted value.