# Determination of the Identity of an Unknown Weak Acid

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1 Determination of the Identity of an Unknown Weak Acid Adapted from R. C. Kerber et. al W.F. Kinard et.al and D.C. Harris Quantitative Chemical Analysis, 5 th ed Freeman Press, Introduction: The purpose of this exercise is to identify an unknown weak acid by titration with a standard sodium hydroxide solution. The ph of the titration solution will be monitored using a ph meter; the obtained titration plot will then be used to determine the equivalent molecular weight and dissociation constant (K a ) of the unknown. These values will then let you decide the identity of the weak acid. When a weak acid, HA, is dissolved in water, only some of the molecules dissociate to yield H 3 O + and A - ions. At this point, a dynamic equilibrium is established: HA (aq) + H 2 O(l) H 3 O + (aq) + A - (aq) Under these equilibrium conditions, the total concentration of each species remains constant, even though the species in solution are constantly dissociating and recombining. The degree of dissociation of the weak acid is used to characterize the acid, and is calculated according to the equation: K a = + [ H O ][ A ] 3 [ HA] where K a is the dissociation constant. Strong acids typically dissociate completely, and therefore would have K a greater than 1. Weak acids have K a values much smaller than 1 (typically less than 10-4 ). For example, the K a of acetic acid (vinegar) is 1.75x10-5, while the K a of bicarbonate (baking soda) is 4.7x For convenience, scientists often use the pk a of weak acids, as it allows them to work with whole numbers. The pka½s of acetic acid and bicarbonate are 4.75 and 10.32, respectively. When a strong base is added to a solution of a weak acid, the hydroxide ion reacts with some of the H 3 O + present, therefore disturbing the equilibrium. More of the acid will dissociate until a new equilibrium is established. When the number of moles of base added equals the number of moles of weak acid present, a sharp change is observed in ph, which can be detected using either an indicator or ph meter. This point is the equivalence point, and any additional base added simply increases the ph. The volume and concentration of the added base can be used to determine the quantity (in moles) of acid that is present. If the ph is measured after each small addition of base is made, a titration curve can be constructed. The titration curve allows the K a of the acid to be determined. According to the equation above, K a will be equal to [H 3 O + ] when [A - ] = [HA], so the pk a will equal the ph. This condition is met halfway to the equivalence point of the titration. In this lab, you will determine the identity of an unknown weak acid by constructing a titration curve, estimating pk a, and determining the equivalent molar mass of the acid based on the quantity of standard solution required.

3 Weak Acid Unknown Possibilities Compound Formula Molar Mass pka Acetic acid HC 2 H 3 O Propanoic acid HC 3 H 5 O Crotonic acid HC 4 H 5 O d/l-lactic acid HC 3 H 5 O Chloroacetic acid HC 2 ClH 2 O Potassium hydrogen oxalate KHC 2 O Glutaric acid H 2 C 5 H 6 O Potassium bisulfate KHSO Sodium bisulfate hydrate NaHSO 4 H 2 O Adipic acid H 2 C 6 H 8 O d/l-mandelic acid HC 8 H 7 O Sulfanilic acid HC 6 H 6 NO 3 S Potassium hydrogen tartrate KHC 4 H 4 O Sodium hydrogen tartrate NaHC 4 H 4 O 6 H 2 O Sulfanilic acid hydrate HC 6 H 6 NO 3 S H 2 O Potassium hydrogen phthalate KHC 8 O

4 Name: Lab Partner(s): Data Sheets: (show all work for calculations below) Unknown #: 1. Mass of acid used: 2. Total volume of prepared acid sample: 3. Concentration of prepared acid sample (g/ml): 4. Concentration of base: TRIAL 1 TRIAL 2 5. Volume of acid titrated (ml): 6. Mass of acid titrated (use 3 and 5): 7. Equivalence Volume (V e, from curve): 8. Moles of base required for equivalence: 9. Molar mass of unknown acid (assume 1:1 stoichiometry): 10. pka of unknown acid (from curve): Identity of unknown acid (use table): Calculations:

5 TRIAL 1 Buret Volume V std (ml) ph Buret Volume V std (ml) ph

6 TRIAL 2 Buret Volume V std (ml) ph Buret Volume V std (ml) ph

7 Post Lab Questions: 1.) On the titration curve you prepared, identify the equivalence point, the buffer region, and the point where ph = pk a. 4.) Explain why any differences between the values calculated in question 2 and the measured ph values may arise. 2.) Why is it important that you allow the heated acid solutions to cool to room temperature before titrating? What may be affected by temperature? 5.) Explain how you determined the identity of your unknown weak acid. 3.) For at least two points along your titration curve, compare the ph measured by the ph meter to the theoretical ph based on the volume of standard solution added.

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