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Determination of K a of a Weak Acid

When placed into aqueous solutions strong acids dissociate completely into their
constituent ions, while weak acids only partially dissociate forming a dynamic
equilibrium (state of balance between continuing processes). In solution weak
acids exist as a mixture of the molecular acid, conjugate base of the weak acid,
and the hydronium ion (1). Since this dissociation process forms a dynamic
equilibrium, the equilibrium constant of the weak acid K a , can be determined
The acid ionization constant, K a , quantitatively measures the strength of the
acid in solution and can be determined experimentally by monitoring the pH of
the weak acid while it is titrated (2). A titration is an experimental procedure that
is used to measure the concentration or pH of a sample by reacting it with a
standard solution (solution containing a known concentration of a substance) to
obtain the desired equivalence point (moles of acid = moles of base). Since most
solutions are colorless it can be hard to determine the equivalence point when
performing a titration process. Including an indicator in the weak acid solution
will provide a visual cue to indicate the endpoint as a color change. However, the
endpoint is not the equivalence point, but will be very close.
The half-equivalence point of a titration is when the number of moles of
base added is equivalent to one-half the number of moles of acid initially
present. Therefore, at the half- equivalence point 50 percent of the acid is
present as its conjugate base and 50 percent remains as the molecular acid. At
this point the [HA] = [A - ]; thus, the ratio of [A - ] to [HA] in equation (2) will
cancel and be reduced to: (3)
Since the pH of the weak acid will be monitored as a function of the
volume of added base, the negative log of both sides of equation (3) reveals the
pH at the half-equivalence point is equivalent to the pK a :
Therefore, the pKa value will determine the Ka for the weak acid.
Specifically, the purpose of this experiment is to determine the acid dissociation
constant (Ka) of an unknown weak acid through the titration process and use of a
pH meter (measure pH).

The unknown weak acid can be determine by titrate it with 0.1 M sodium
hydroxide, NaOH or by measuring the pH of the weak acid using pH electrode.
The graph of titration NaOH with weak acid can show the equivalence point of
the titration which the initial number of moles of H + form the acid has been
exactly neutralized by an equal number of moles of OH - ion from the sodium
hydroxide. From that, half equivalence point can be determine and the pH that
corresponding to the half equivalence point can use to determine value of Ka
where the average of Ka value form two titration is . Value of Ka can be
determined from the pH that measured by pH electrode by using Ice Table. The
initial molarity is taken from the molarity that has been determined from the
titration. By several more calculation, the average Ka value of unknown acid was
determined to be. From the Ka value, the unknown acid has been determined to
be acetic acid according to the table given.

The relative acidity or basicity of a substance or a system is of critical
importance in many situations, such as the quality of drinking water, food
preservation, soil conditions for agriculture, and physiological functions. One
measures of the strength of an acid its ability to donate protons to a base. The
acid ionization constant, Ka, is a quantitative measure of the strength of an acid.
The ionization of a generic acid, HA, can be represented by the following
equation: in which the weak acid donates a proton, H + , to a water molecule, to
form the hydronium ion, H 3 O + , and the conjugate base of the weak acid, A - .
The corresponding acid ionization constant expression, Ka, can be written as: The
Ka value is characteristic of an acid and can be used to identify an unknown acid.
The Ka value indicates the relative strength of an acid. The larger the Ka value,
the stronger the acid. The smaller the K a value the weaker the acid.
To determine the acid ionization constants, Ka of weak acid solution by titration
with 0.1 M sodium hydroxide NaOH and by measuring the pH of the weak acid
using pH electrode.
The aim of this experiment is to determine the Ka value of a weak acid by
titration of the acid with sodium hydroxide solution. Known concentration 0.1M of
NaOH was used to titrate unknown acid solution. The data was recorder and the
titration curve was plotted. From the curve, volume at equivalence point and half

equivalence point was obtained which will give the corresponding pH of unknown
acid solution at half equivalence point of the titration. Three titration was done,
which produce Ka value of 5.6105 x 10 -6 ,6.1094 x 10 -6 and 4.7315 x 10 -6
respectively. The average Ka obtained for part 1 of the experiment was 5.4838 x
10 -6 which is near to Ka value of KHP (5.3 x 10 -6 ). For the second part of the
experiment, the Ka was calculated by using the pH obtained directly from the pH
meter when the pH electrode was put in the unknown acid solution. The average
Ka value obtained was 4.4506 x 10 -8 and the Ka value is closest to Ka value for
hypochlorous acid which is 3.5 x 10 -8 . Unfortunately, the acid used in both of
the experiment was KHP. The result obtained in second part of the experiment
contradicts to the acid used. The percentage experimental error in second part of
the experiment calculated was 99.16%.
Acids and bases are often described as being weak or strong. While this
classification seems somewhat arbitrary, other more quantitative descriptors
exist. According to the Bronsted-Lowrey acid-base theory, the strength of an acid
is related to its ability to donate protons. All acid-base reactions are then
competitions between bases of various strengths for these protons For acids, Ka
values are commonly used. The Ka value is an indication of acid strength The
larger the Ka value, the stronger the acid and vice versa. The Ka value is a
characteristics of an acid and can be used to identify an unknown acid. A similar
system exists for bases (Kb). Two methods may be used to determine the Ka
value. Both methods require the use of a pH meter. In the first method, a sample
of acid is titrated with base. The pH values are plotted vs. the volume of base
added. The equivalence point is determined from the graph. Next, the volume of
base halfway to the equivalence point is found, and the pH at this volume is
noted. The [H+] corresponding to this pH is equal to the Ka for the acid. At a
point halfway to the equivalence point, [H+] = [HA] = [A-] for a monoprotic acid.
Canceling out [A-] and [HA] in Equation 2 gives Ka = [H+]. The second method
for determining Ka in this experiment is to measure directly the pH of the
unknown acid by using pH meter.
To determine the Ka value of unknown acid given and identify the unknown acid
based on its Ka value. The pKa of an unidentified acid will be graphically
determined using titration data and the K a for the acid determined from the
titration curve and from initial molarity and pH.