An unknown compound was found to have a percent composition as follows: 47.0% potassium, 14.5% carbon, and 38.5% oxygen. What is empirical formula? If the true molar mass of the compound is 166.22 g/mol, what is its molecular formula?

1 Answer
Mar 31, 2017

Answer:

The #"empirical formula"# is #KCO_2#

Explanation:

As with all these problems, we assume a #100*g# mass of unknown compound, and then we work out the molar quantity:

#"Moles of potassium"=(47.0*g)/(39.10*g*mol^-1)=1.20*mol#

#"Moles of carbon"=(14.5*g)/(12.011*g*mol^-1)=1.21*mol#

#"Moles of oxygen"=(38.5*g)/(16.0*g*mol^-1)=2.41*mol#

We divide thru by the smallest molar quantity to give the empirical formula:

#KCO_2#.

Now the molecular formula is always a whole number of the empirical formula:

i.e. #"molecular formula"=nxx"empirical formula"#

And thus with the molecular mass, we can solve for #n#.

#166.2*g*mol^-1=nxx(39.1+12.011+2xx16.00)*g*mol^-1#

#166.2*g*mol^-1=nxx(83.1)*g*mol^-1#

Clearly, #n=2#, and the #"molecular formula"=K_2C_2O_4 #

The compound is LIKELY the potassium salt of oxalic acid, #K^(+)""^(-)O(O=)C-C(=O)O^(-)K^+#, i.e. #"potassium oxalate."#