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SMCESPS

A-level Chemistry Essay Writing 2006

Li Wai Cheung S7B 20

Give an account on the experimental determination of the partition coefficient of ethanoic acid
between water and 1,1,1-trichloroethane

Introduction of partition coefficient


The meaning of partition coefficient is that at a given temperature, the ratio of the
concentrations of a solute in two solvents which are immiscible is a constant when the equilibrium
has been reached, this constant is called partition coefficient.
We can express the law of partition mathematically, and the expression is:

KD 
Solute solvent1
Solute solvent 2 where K D is the partition coefficient for the system

Since the unit of concentration is mol dm-3 , by the expression above , the unit is cancelled each
other , therefore , it is no unit (dimensionless)on the partition coefficient.
The value of partition coefficient is not affected by the amount of solute added and the volumes
of solvents. It is dependent on the temperature of the environment only as the equilibrium depends on
temperature. The law of partition just only be applied for dilute solutions.

Apparatus for the experiment


For doing this experiment , we need to have 1,1,1-trichloroethane , dilute ethanoic acid , water ,
dilute sodium hydroxide , phenolphthalein indicator , pipette , separating funnel , burette and conical
flask
Note that we should wear a safely googles when doing this experiment , since
1,1,1-trichloroethane is irritating to our eyes and when we pour the ethanoic acid , pour it with care
as ethanoic acid is also irritant.
Procedure for the experiment
Before doing this experiment, we have to measure the room temperature first , as mentioned
above , the temperature of surroundings will affect the partition coefficient and thus will affect
equilibrium.
Use a pipette , pipette certain amount (say 25cm3) of aqueous ethanoic acid and certain amount
(say 25cm3) of 1,1,1-trichloroethane into a separating funnel . Put a stopper on the top of the
separating funnel. Now shake the separating funnel for a while (say 1 to 3 minutes).Remember that
when in the shaking process , we have to open the stopper to release the pressure produced regularly ,
otherwise the separating funnel will be broken down.
After shaking , separate the layer(say 20cm3) into different containers , when the bottom layers
is near the junction of two layers , close the tap, otherwise the excess layer (a few top layer) will be
flowed out that the experimental error will occurred.
Next, we have to do the process of titration , we pipette the aqueous layer into a conical flask
and titrate with sodium hydroxide solution (in burette) and add few drops of phenolphthalein
indicator into the conical flask and also using another pipette to titrate the another layer into another
conical flask and titrate this solution with sodium hydroxide.
Repeat the steps above with another separating funnel by using different volume of ethanoic
acid (say 35cm3 and 45cm3) and finally calculate the ratio of concentration of ethanoic acid in the
aqueous layer to that in 1,1,1-trichloroethane layer.

Conclusion of the experiment


For the above experiment , we can notice that the ethanoic acid is dissolved in water more than
dissolved in 1,1,1-trichloethane , it is because ethanoic acid is polar , it has dipole moment , and their
molecules can form strong hydrogen bond with water molecules. The diagram below shows how the
molecule of ethanoic acid form strong hydrogen bonds with water molecules.

Resources:
 New Way Chemistry Book 2 P.104 for introduction of partition coefficients
 The lab Menu of determination of partition coefficient of ethanoic acid between water and
2-methylpropan-1-ol as this procedure of this experiment is similar to
The experiment above that we use this lab menu to take reference.
The webpage is : http://www.tsk.edu.hk/~ngkm/f6expt/EXPT18.pdf
The file of this lab menu will be attached in the CD