Sie sind auf Seite 1von 4


Fig 3.1

Activity 3: Creating Balance Balanced reactions & mole rockets

In the late sixties and early seventies, a group of scientists and engineers were working to design a reusable space craft able to carry individuals and, more importantly, large materials up into space to build space stations, moon colonies, and pave the way to Mars. When they looked to power this craft (Figure 3.1), they relied partially on the chemistry you will be studying today. In this activity, youll be experimenting with the properties of oxygen and hydrogen gas. Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, is a colorless, odorless gas. It is combustible, which means that it burns quite readily. Hydrogen gas is conveniently generated in the lab by the reaction of zinc metal with hydrochloric acid. Oxygen, the most abundant element on Earth, is also a colorless, odorless gas. Oxygen gas supports combustion, that is, it must be present for combustible materials to burn. Small-scale quantities of oxygen gas are conveniently generated in the lab by the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. The decomposition reaction of hydrogen peroxide requires a catalyst to initiate the reaction. A variety of different catalysts, including manganese, manganese dioxide, potassium iodide, and even yeast, have been used in this reaction. In this lab, yeast will be used to catalyze the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide and generate oxygen gas.

It will free man from the remaining chains, the chains of gravity which still time him to his planet. --Werner von Braun

The combustion reaction of hydrogen and oxygen is used to produce the explosive energy needed to power the space shuttle (Figure 3.2). The reaction is also being engineered to serve as a source of continuous energy for fuel cells in electric vehicles. What factors determine the explosiveness of the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen? In this lab, we will generate microscale quantities of hydrogen and oxygen and test their explosive nature, first separately, then in mixtures of various proportions. The goal in laymans terms: find the most powerful gas mixture and use it to launch a rocket across the room!

Fig 3.2

This activitys goal in terms of chemistry concepts is to generate hydrogen and oxygen and determine the optimum ratio for their combustion reaction to give water. The optimum ratio will be used to calculate the mole ratio for the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen in a chemical equation. The concept of limiting reactants will be used to explain the results obtained with various hydrogen/oxygen gas mixtures.


Set-up in the classroom is a Hoffman Apparatus (also pictured 3.3 as a slightly different set-up that functions on the same basic principle). Your instructor will explain exactly what is happening with this apparatus after the rockets have launched. This will allow you to brainstorm a bit before heading back to the laboratory and before you go for the classroom rocket record! 1. As you may have noticed in the diagram of the external tank on the space shuttle, youll be dealing with oxygen and hydrogen. The Hoffman Apparatus is designed to produce oxygen and hydrogen gas from water. What side do you think is hydrogen gas? Why? 2. Answer the following questions: Write the balanced chemical equation for the single replacement reaction of zinc and hydrochloric acid to generate hydrogen gas. Write the balanced chemical equation for the catalyzed decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to generate oxygen gas and water. Note: Since a catalyst is not really a reactant or product, it is usually written over the arrow.

Share your answers with your group and see if you all know the significance of the questions. As always, write an objective for this laboratory activity in your lab notebook.
Fig 3.3


Part A: Understanding gas generators

1. Microscale gas generators consist of a small test tube, a rubber stopper, a gas delivery tube, and a gas collection bulb. See Figure 3.4(a). 2. Four pipets have been cut for you and calibrated into 5 divisions (6 parts). Your instructor will explain this to you in a pre-lab conversation. 3. Prepare two hydrogen gas generators by placing a little mossy zinc into the bottom of two test tubes. 4. Prepare two oxygen gas generators by placing a very small amount of MnO2(s) into the bottom of the other two small test tubes. 5. Set the test tubes in a test tube rack over several layers of paper towel.
Fig 3.4

Part B: Testing & launching rockets

In Part B you will find the ideal ratio. Keep track of your data in any way you wish but youll need to record the results on your own qualitative scale (referred to below as a pop test). 1. Add 3.0 M hydrochloric acid to the mossy zinc in one of the hydrogen gas generators until the test tube is half full. Cap the tube with the gas delivery stopper. Note: Wait about 30 seconds before filling any rockets. This will allow time for the air to be purged from the test tube. 2. Add 5% hydrogen peroxide to a VERY SMALL sample of MnO2 in one of the oxygen gas generators until the test tube is half full. Cap the tube with the gas delivery stopper. Note: Wait about 30 seconds before filling any rockets. 3. Test various integer mixtures of the gasses in the rocket, including pure hydrogen and pure oxygen. Always collect oxygen first, followed by hydrogen. Fill the rockets by filling them first with water and displacing water by the gasses in parts (your rocket is divided into parts). Place the rocket on the sparker as demonstrated and launch. Keep the launcher dry (dry it with paper towels when it gets too wet). 4. When the reaction in one of the gas generators slows down so much that it is no longer useful, fill the second gas generating tube with liquid (either HCl or H2O2, as appropriate) and use it instead. 5. Rank the gas mixtures on a scale from zero to 10 to describe their relative loudness in the poptest. Let the most explosive mixture be a 10, the least reactive gas a zero.


Reading: Mole Rockets

Read Active Chemistry Chem Talk on pages 270 and pages 393 397 to review reaction types.

Questions: Mole Rockets

1. Write a balanced chemical equation for the combustion reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to produce water. 2. Complete the following sentence to describe the number of moles of each reactant involved in the combustion of hydrogen: moles of hydrogen react with mole of oxygen to give moles of water. When the reactants in a mixture are present in the exact mole ratio given by the balanced chemical equation, all of the reactant should be used up when the reaction is over. There will be no leftover reactants. However, if one of the reactants is present in an amount greater than its mole ratio, then that reactant cannot react completely, and some of it will be left over at the end of the reaction. 3. Use the mole ratio of hydrogen to oxygen from Question #3 to determine what happens when various hydrogen/oxygen gas mixtures are allowed to react. Complete the following table to indicate which reactant (H2 or O2 or both) is present in excess, and how much of it will be left over after the combustion reaction is complete. Note: The 5:1 has been completed as an example. T abl e 2 .1 : Ex c es s r e a c ta nts Parts H2 6 Parts O2 0 Which Reactant(s) is present in excess? How much of that reactant(s) is left over? 5 1 H2 3 4 2 3 3 2 4 1 5 0 6

4. Using the reaction of Zn reacting with HCl as an example, predict the products of the following reactions, and balance the equations. a) zinc b) magnesium c) magnesium + + + acetic acid hydrochloric acid sulfuric acid

5. (1) Predict the names of the products of the following reactions. (2) Write all of the formulas for the complete reaction. (3) Balance each reaction. (4) State what type of reaction it is. a) ammonium chloride + b) magnesium + silver nitrate fluorine

c) lithium + aluminum chloride

d) write the reaction for water decomposing e) calcium hydroxide + hydrochloric acid





What does the activity mean?

Chemistry explains the macroscopic phenomenon (what you observe) with and explanation of what happens at the nanoscopic level (atoms and molecules) using symbolic structures as a way to communicate. Explain the meaning of this activity by completing the MNS table. MACRO When there was not an excess of hydrogen or oxygen left in the micromole rocket, the rocket launched the furthest. NANO What does this change look like at the nanoscale? Draw the reactants and products separately. SYMBOLIC Why do we balance reactions? What law is this related to?

How do I know?
What did your data say was the best ratio for launching the rocket? How does this relate to the balanced equation?

Why do I believe?
Why do the hydrogen and oxygen gas mixtures in the collection bulb not react as soon as they are collected? Note: Consider the role of the match and the properties of gas molecules at room temperature and relate this to previous units where we needed to give an input of energy.

Why do I care?
We will look again at reaction when we generate hydrogen fuel cells in more detail. What are some issues you see with this reaction as a means to generate energy for a car?