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ERIC Number: EJ920482
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 38
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Oxalate Synthesis and Pyrolysis: A Colorful Introduction to Stoichiometry
Vannatta, Michael W.; Richards-Babb, Michelle; Sweeney, Robert J.
Journal of Chemical Education, v87 n11 p1225-1229 Nov 2010
Metal oxalate synthesis and pyrolysis provides an opportunity for students to (i) learn stoichiometry, (ii) experience the consequences of proper stoichiometric calculations and experimental techniques, and (iii) be introduced to the relevance of chemistry by highlighting oxalates in context, for example, usages and health effects. At our institution, general chemistry students synthesized the hydrated form of either iron(II), nickel(II), or manganese(II) oxalate. Synthesis was followed by oxalate pyrolysis and subsequent determination of the pyrolysis product's identity, of three possible, using stoichiometric calculations and comparisons of theoretical and actual yields. Striking color changes that accompany these pyrolysis reactions were well received by students and served to highlight the chemical changes involved. Student actual yield values for both the iron and manganese pyrolysis products compared favorably with theoretical yield values and, in addition, 78% and 76% of students would have chosen the correct iron or manganese pyrolysis product, assuming correct stoichiometric and experimental calculations. Flaws in students' experimental techniques were especially noticeable during pyrolysis of the nickel oxalate. Specifically, students did not heat to constant weight, did not heat to high enough temperature to achieve complete pyrolysis, and ended the pyrolysis prematurely, that is, at an intermediate yellow-colored product. (Contains 5 tables.)
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A