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Tyrone Li

82-6
5-2-08

The Effect of Light on the Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide

I. INTRODUCTION
The idea of balancing equations is related to this experiment because a
titration is used to balance an equation. A titration is a method to measure the
amounts of liquids that are used in a reaction (“The Titration Project”). Hydrogen
peroxide, or H2O2, is a water-like liquid mainly used for cleansing
(www.infoplease.com)
The objective of this experiment is to test an independent variable that is
likely to affect the amount of H2O2 in the commercial solution. The independent
variables are three percent hydrogen peroxide in different states of
decomposition, such as decomposing from direct sunlight and decomposing from
indirect sunlight inside a room. The dependent variable is the amount of KmnO4
or potassium permanganate needed to destroy the H2O2 in the mixture. This can
be measured by using a titration with a burette filled with potassium
permanganate. Some important controlled variables are the amount of H2SO4
used in each mixture to make the mixture react with KmnO4 which is ten
milliliters, another significant controlled variable is the amount of the H2O2
solution to use in each trial which is six milliliters.
One important vocabulary term was “titration”, which is a “common
laboratory method that is used to quantify the amounts of liquids that are used in
a reaction...... Titrations can also be used for reactions involving a change of
oxidation state for transition metal elements.” (“The Titrations Project”). Another
important term is “free radicals” which are highly reactive molecules (“The
Titration Project”). The research stated that hydrogen peroxide is able to oxidize
many substances (web1.caryacademy.org) and that it is a weak acid mostly used
as a household cleaner (www.infoplease.com). Hydrogen peroxide is also said to
be different from water mostly by a single bond between two oxygen atoms in
H2O2 that is very weak, therefore easily breakable into free radicals that are very
reactive (“The Titration Project”). The research stated that the independent
variable, or light, caused the hydrogen peroxide to decompose faster partly
because of the fact that sunlight contains ultraviolet light (h2o2.com).
If the three percent hydrogen peroxide were exposed to direct sunlight then
it would make the solution decompose the most because direct sunlight contains
ultraviolet rays which help the solution decompose. The research helped to create
this hypothesis because it was learned that light makes H2O2 decompose faster
than without light (h2o2.com).
From this experiment it can be learned how to use a titration. A future
experiment that might come of this is to use potatoes, yeast, or another catalyst
to invoke the reaction and compare it to the data from this experiment containing
light.