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# MOLECULAR WEIGHT OF A VOLATILE LIQUID

Prelaboratory assignment

## Examples of questions related to the Dumas method:

How many grams of ethanol would occupy 750 mL at 790.5 torr pressure at
100oC? (molar mass of ethanol is 46.0 g mol-1)

Relavent equations:

PV = nRT
1 atm = 101.3 kPa

## R = 0.8206 L atm mol-1 K-1

P = (750 torr)(1atm/760 torr) = 0.987 atm
V = 0.750 L
T = 373 K

You can calculate the moles of the gas if you know can measure the volume of
gas:
(0.987 atm)(0.750 L) = n (0.8206 L atm mol -1 K-1)(373 K)
n = 0.0242 mol

And you can calculate the grams of gas if you know the molar mass:
(0.0242 mol)(1 mol / 46.0 g) = mass
mass = 1.11 g

Dumas method:

Calculate the molar mass of a compound in the Dumas method for which a
volume of the expermental container was 452 mL and the pressure was 745.1
torr. The difference in mass between the empty container and the final
measurement was 1.129 g.
P = (745.1 torr)/(760 torr atm-1) = 0.9804 atm
V = 0.452 L
T = 373 K
(0.9804 atm)(0.452 L) = n (0.8206 L atm mol-1 K-1)(373 K)
n = 0.01448 mol

## Molar mass = M, m = mass, n = moles

M = m/n
M = (1.129 g)/(0.01448 mol)
M = 78.0 g /mol
Possible Unknowns:
Hexane Molar mass 86.18 g/mol
1-hexene 84.1608 g/mol
Ethanol 46.07 g/mol
Propanol 60.1 g/mol
n-pentane 72.0 g/mol

notebook.

Sample data:
Mass of test tube and foil cover (g) 62.240 grams 0.001 g
Temperature of water bath (C) 90.0 C 0.5 C
Mass of test tube and foil and gas sample (g) 62.247 g 0.001 g
Barometric pressure (kPa) 103.1 0.1 kPa
Mass of test tube and foil and water (g) 87.240 g 0.001 g

Answer these questions for the sample data above. Report uncertainty
with each calculated value.
1. Determine the mass of the condensed portion of the unknown that you placed
in the test tube. Include uncertainty.

2. Use the mass of the water in the test tube and its density to calculate the
volume of the test tube. Include uncertainty. Assume there is no uncertainty in
the density of water (1 g/mL).

3. Use the calculations from Questions 1 and 2 above, along with the
temperature of the boiling water bath and the barometric pressure of the room, to
calculate the molar mass of your unknown compound. Use PV = nRT and solve
for n (moles). Remember which units to useyou will need to convert some
units. Include uncertainty.

## 4. Identify the unknown liquid substance that you tested.

5. For the data given, what is limiting the precision of your experiment the most?
EXPERIMENT 8: MOLECULAR WEIGHT OF A
VOLATILE LIQUID
INTRODUCTION: Determination of the Molecular Weight of a Volatile Liquid
by the Dumas Method

The Dumas method is one of the simplest ways to measure the molecular weight
of a substance. It uses the ideal gas law. In this method we have to confine a
sample of gas in a container of known volume, making sure when we do this that
the sample is exactly at atmospheric pressure. The temperature and the mass of
the gas sample have to be measured, along with the atmospheric pressure.
Because liquids are much easier to handle than gases, a volatile liquid is usually
used as the source of the gas. The liquid must have a boiling point substantially
above room temperature and below the boiling point of water in order for this
method to work well. The paragraphs below describe the experimental method
generally used by scientists and the modifications to that method that we will
make in our experiment. As you read, see if you can identify the possible sources
of error that our simplified procedure will introduce. In the classic experiment, a
round thin walled glass bulb with a long, thin bent neck is made by a glassblower
and weighed. A small amount of volatile liquid is introduced into the bulb through
a tiny opening at the end of the bulb's neck. The bulb is heated in a boiling water
bath to vaporize the liquid. The volume of vapor formed at 100 C (the
approximate temperature of the boiling water - the exact temperature of the
boiling water must be measured experimentally) and atmospheric pressure is
greater than the volume of the bulb. The vapor first pushes all of the air out of the
bulb and then begins to rush out of the opening until the pressure inside the bulb
equals the pressure outside (atmospheric). With careful observation, the vapor
can be seen exiting the bulb. It looks like a jet engine exhaust or a swirling cloud.
When all of the liquid is vaporized and no more vapor is seen leaving the bulb,
the bulb contains a sample of vapor at atmospheric pressure and 100 C with a
volume exactly equal to the volume of the bulb. The opening in the neck of the
bulb is quickly sealed with a flame. It is important that the bulb be sealed at
exactly the moment that vapor stops escaping from the bulb. (Sealing before
vapor stops escaping will result too much vapor remains in the bulb. The
molecular mass calculated will be too high. Waiting too long to seal the opening
will result in a molecular weight that is too low. Can you explain why?) The
sealed bulb is cooled, dried and carefully reweighed. The volume of the bulb
must now be determined. The vapor inside has condensed, and the space above
the liquid in the bulb is a near vacuum. The sealed tip of the bulb is then cut off
with a file under water in a large container . The water rushes into the bulb, filling
it completely. The bulb is dried on the outside and weighed once again. The
volume of the bulb can be determined from the mass of water it contains.
Barometric pressure and room temperature are carefully measured and
recorded. The density of water at room temperature is either measured or
obtained from the chemical literature. The volume (V) of the bulb is calculated
from the mass of the water needed to completely fill the bulb. The mass (g) of
vapor is obtained by subtraction. The temperature of the boiling water bath (T)
and atmospheric pressure (P) were measured directly during the experiment.
With this information, the molecular mass of the gas can be calculated using the
ideal gas law. We will make a few simplifications in our experiment. First, we will
use an ordinary Erlenmeyer flask covered with aluminum foil rather than a glass
bulb. A tiny hole will be made in the foil to allow vapor to escape from the flask.
We will not seal the flask when vapor stops escaping from the hole. We will
simply remove it from the hot water bath as quickly as possible. The vapor will
condense rapidly. We will measure the volume of the flask by filling it with water
and then measuring the volume of water using a graduated cylinder. The
information needed to determine the molecular mass of the unknown is the same
as in the classic Dumas method: pressure (P), volume ,(V) the mass of the vapor,
(g), and the temperature (T). Using this procedure, we should be able to
determine the molecular mass of a volatile liquid to within 10% error.