What is the whole number that appears before a formula in an equation?

1 Answer
Mar 2, 2017

Answer:

Do you mean the #"stoichiometric coefficients"#?

Explanation:

Let's take hydrocarbon combustion, that of pentane, which we could represent as:

#C_5H_12(l) + 8O_2(g) rarr 5CO_2(g) + 6H_2O(l)#

The numbers: #1,8,5,# and #6# are the stoichiometric coefficients of #"pentane, dioxygen, carbon dioxide, and water"# in the stoichiometrically balanced equation.

For even numbered alkanes, we could use non-integral stoichiometric coefficients:

#C_6H_14(l) + 19/2O_2(g) rarr 6CO_2(g) + 7H_2O(l)#

Is this equation stoichiometrically balanced? Don't trust my arithmetic!