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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 14 Issue 1 (2009) pp 26-29

An Inorganic Green Chemistry Experiment: The Preparation and Analysis of Group II Metal Oxalate Hydrates

John P. Canal

Department of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada,
Received February 28, 2008. Accepted July 16, 2008.

Published online: 2 February 2009

Abstract. Recent high-profile developments in the field of Green chemistry, such as the awarding of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Chauvin, Grubbs and Schrock for their development of a green organic-synthesis method, has brought Green chemistry to the forefront and highlighted the need to develop undergraduate programs, which teach the ideals of sustainable chemistry. An inorganic experiment is hereby presented which introduces Green Chemistry but is also correlated to many of the topics covered in the inorganic chemistry curriculum such as the hard/soft acid/base concept, charge density, ionic lattices, thermodynamics and molecular orbital theory. Alkali metal chlorides (MCl2nH2O; M = Mg, Ca, Sr, Ba) are used to produce oxalate (M(C2O4)nH2O; M=Mg, Ca, Sr, Ba) products through a water-based reaction. The use of Green solvents and methods to minimize waste are introduced as well as the topic of percent atom economy. These oxalates hydrates are characterized by thermogravimetric analysis and infrared spectroscopy and the results discussed in terms of the lecture material. Due to the limited expose levels of Sr and Ba, this experiment also provides a safe means to examine the chemistry of some heavy metals.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; second-year undergraduate; inorganic chemistry; environmental chemistry; hands-on learning/ manipulatives; aqueous solution chemistry; calorimetry/thermochemistry; coordination chemistry; Green chemistry; organometallics; synthesis; thermal analysis

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (112 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Detailed instructions for students and instructors, including trouble-shooting, sample results, IR and TGA spectra are available (226 KB).

Issue date: February 2, 2009

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