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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 11 Issue 5 (2006) pp 317-318

Determination of Molar Mass and Molecular Formula via Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry of Unknown Liquids in the General Chemistry Laboratory

Scott E. McKay*, Robert W. Lashlee III, Glenn A. Petrie, and Sariah M. Moody

Department of Chemistry and Physics, Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, Missouri,
Received August 1, 2005. Accepted April 3, 2006.

Published online: 9 August 2006

Abstract. We describe an introduction to gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) that is compatible with the first general chemistry laboratory. The principles and concepts of chromatography, mass spectrometry, and molecular formula determination were explored. These concepts were investigated in the context of a possible arson fire. The students were directed to find the molecular formula, boiling point, and other properties of an unknown liquid. Databases and literature were used extensively to complement and compare with the experimentally derived data and results.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; GC/MS

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (39 KB) HTML format

Issue date: October 1, 2006

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