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Experiment 3: colorful copper


  • To observe, describe and explain the products of a number of chemical reactions of the transition metal copper.
  • To use several techniques in recovering copper from solution.
  • To understand the concept of percent yield.


  • Pre-lab (10%)
  • Lab Report (80%)
  • TA points (10%)

Before coming to lab…

  • Read the lab instructions
  • Complete the pre-lab, due at the beginning of the lab.


Copper is a soft metal with a characteristic color that we often call "copper-colored", a bright orange-brown color. Copper is relatively inert chemically; it does not readily oxidize (react with oxygen) in air and is react when exposed to simple mineral acids such as sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. One of the most popular uses of copper is in the computer industry where it is used to build the integrated circuits and chips. It is beginning to replace aluminum for this application due to the resulting decrease in costs. Copper is also good at conducting electricity because it has so many free electrons that allow for the efficient flow of current.

In this lab you will preform a series of reactions with copper and observe a variety of distinctive and colorful products. Most chemical syntheses involve the separation and then purification of a desired product from unwanted side products. The common methods of separation are filtration, sedimentation, decantation, extraction, chromatography and sublimation.

This experiment is designed as a quantitative evaluation of your laboratory skills in carrying out a series of chemical reactions, purification and analyses with copper. You will employ two fundamental types of chemical reactions, namely oxidation-reduction (redox) and metathesis (exchange) reactions to recover pure copper with maximum efficiency. The chemical reactions involved are the following.

Redox: Cu ( s ) + 4HNO 3 ( aq ) Cu ( NO 3 ) 2 ( aq ) + NO 2 ( g ) + 2H 2 O ( l ) size 12{"Cu" \( s \) +"4HNO" rSub { size 8{3} } \( "aq" \) rightarrow "Cu" \( "NO" rSub { size 8{3} } \) rSub { size 8{2} } \( "aq" \) +"NO" rSub { size 8{2} } \( g \) +"2H" rSub { size 8{2} } O \( l \) } {} [1]

*Metathesis: Cu ( NO 3 ) 2 ( aq ) + 2 NaOH ( aq ) Cu ( OH ) 2 ( s ) + 2NaHO 3 ( aq ) size 12{"Cu" \( "NO" rSub { size 8{3} } \) rSub { size 8{2} } \( "aq" \) +2"NaOH" \( "aq" \) rightarrow "Cu" \( "OH" \) rSub { size 8{2} } \( s \) +"2NaHO" rSub { size 8{3} } \( "aq" \) } {} [2]

Dehydration: Cu ( OH ) 2 ( s ) + heat CuO ( s ) + H 2 O ( g ) size 12{"Cu" \( "OH" \) rSub { size 8{2} } \( s \) +"heat" rightarrow "CuO" \( s \) +H rSub { size 8{2} } O \( g \) } {} [3]

Metathesis: CuO ( s ) + H 2 SO 4 ( aq ) CuSO 4 ( aq ) + H 2 O ( l ) size 12{"CuO" \( s \) +H rSub { size 8{2} } "SO" rSub { size 8{4} } \( "aq" \) rightarrow "CuSO" rSub { size 8{4} } \( "aq" \) +H rSub { size 8{2} } O \( l \) } {} [4]

Redox: 3CuSO 4 ( aq ) + 2 Al ( s ) Al 2 ( SO 4 ) 3 ( aq ) + Cu ( s ) size 12{"3CuSO" rSub { size 8{4} } \( "aq" \) +2"Al" \( s \) rightarrow "Al" rSub { size 8{2} } \( "SO" rSub { size 8{4} } \) rSub { size 8{3} } \( "aq" \) +"Cu" \( s \) } {} [5]

Each of these reactions proceeds to completion and in the case of a metathesis reaction, completion is reached when one of the components is removed from the solution in form of a gas or an insoluble precipitate. This is the case for reactions [1], [2], and [3]. In reactions [1]and [3] a gas is formed and in reaction [2]an insoluble precipitate is formed (Reaction [5] proceed to completion because copper is more difficult to oxidize than aluminum).

Metathesis (Exchange) Reaction Defined in Chapter 4 of your textbook: 'One of the following is needed to drive a metathesis reaction: the formation of a precipitate, the generation of a gas, the production of a weak electrolyte, or the production of a nonelectrolyte.'

Oxidation-Reduction (Redox) Reactions. This involves the loss of electrons from one components and an addition of electrons to the other component as the reaction proceeds (the are transferred from one atom to another). The component that loses electrons is said to be oxidized; the one that gains electrons is then reduced. Such reactions are important for the production of electricity due to the energy produced from an electron transfer.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Gen chem lab. OpenStax CNX. Oct 12, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10452/1.51
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