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A buffer solution is essentially a solution which is designed to resist changes in pH when small quantities of an acid or an alkali is added, removing

small amounts of H+ or OH- ions that are added to it. There are two types of buffers: Acidic buffers Alkaline buffers An acidic buffer is made from a weak acid and a salt of that weak acid. Most common example would be ethanoic acid and sodium ethanoate, CH3COOH and NaCH3COO. An acidic buffer solution has a pH less than 7. The mechanism of an acidic buffer solution is as followed: NaCH3COO(aq) Na+(aq) + CH3COO-(aq) CH3COOH(aq) CH3COO- (aq)+ H+(aq) In a solution, the salt fully dissociates into its ions whilst the weak acid partially dissociates. When H+ ions are added, the ethanoate ions react with it to form undissociated ethanoic acid, keeping the [H+] and therefore the pH constant. CH3COO- (aq)+ H+(aq) CH3COOH(aq) If OH- ions are added, the ethanoic acid will react with it to form water, therefore keeping the [H+] ions and the pH constant CH3COOH(aq) + OH-(aq) CH3COO-(aq) + H2O(l) A key fact is that an acidic buffer solution is most commonly formed from adding a weak acid to a strong base, until a salt and excess weak acid remain: NaOH(aq) + CH3COOH(aq) NaCH3COO(aq) + H2O(l) + (excess) CH3COOH(aq) An alkaline buffer operates in a similar fashion. However, it is composed of a weak base and one of its salts instead, with a pH greater than 7. A common example would ammonia mixed with ammonium chloride, NH3 and NH4Cl. Again, in a solution, the salt completely dissociates whilst the weak base partially dissociates: NH4Cl(aq) NH4+(aq) + Cl-(aq) NH3(aq) + H2O(l) > NH4+(aq) + OH-(aq)

When H+ ions are added to a solution, it will react with the OH- from the weak base to form water and the weak base will further dissociate to replace them. If OH- ions are added, the NH4+ ammonium ions will react with it to form NH3 and water. Similar to acidic buffers, an alkaline buffer solution can be made if a strong acid is mixed with a weak base until only the salt and excess weak base remain. Solve problems involving the composition and pH of a specified buffer system. Since a buffer solution contains a weak acid in it, the dissociation equilibrium equation can be used to find the Ka and pH: Ka = ([H+] [CH3COO-])/ [CH3COOH] But wait a minute! Doesnt a buffer solution also contains the completely dissociated salt! We would therefore have to make the assumption that [CH3COO-] in the solution in equilibrium is provided largely by the dissociated salt and not by the weak acid. A common question they will ask you in a exam regarding buffers is to work out the pH of a buffer solution formed. For example: 25.0 cm3 of 1.00 102 mol dm3 hydrochloric acid solution is added to 50.0 cm3 of 1.00 102 mol dm3 aqueous ammonia solution. Calculate the concentrations of both ammonia and ammonium ions in the resulting solution and hence determine the pH of the solution. Reaction equation: HCl(aq) + NH3(aq) NH4+(aq) + Cl-(aq) Number of moles before reaction: HCl: 0.025 x 0.01 = 0.00025 mols NH3: 0.05 x 0.01 = 0.0005 mols 1:1 mol ratio when they react, therefore the NH3 is in excess. Number of moles after reaction: HCl: 0.00025 mols 0.00 mols (completely reacted) NH3: 0.0005 mols 0.00025 mols (1:1 ratio)

NH4+: 0.00025 mols formed Concentration: Total volume of solution: 0.025 dm3 + 0.05 dm3 = 0.075 dm3 [NH3] = 0.00025 / 0.075 = 0.0033 mol dm-3 [NH4+] = 0.00025 / 0.075 = 0.0033 mol dm-3 Equilibrium equation: pKb of NH3 = 4.75 (from data booklet) ; Kb therefore equals 10-4.75 Kb = ([NH4+] [OH-]) / [NH3] You want to work out the [OH-] so you can work out the pH. Rearranging the equation gives us: [OH-] = (Kb x [NH3]) / [NH4+] Substituting the values in: [OH-] = (10-4.75 x 0.0033) / 0.0033 [NH3] = [NH4+] Therefore [OH-] = 10-4.75 & pOH = 4.75 pH = pKw pOH pH = 14 4.75 pH = 9.25