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What does the model show?

If a copper carbonate is heated with carbon, a chemical reaction takes place. Initially the copper carbonate thermally decomposes into copper oxide. Then the carbon reacts with the copper oxide liberating pure metal in a type of displacement reaction.

The metal carbonate is reduced (loses oxygen) as the carbon is oxidised (gains oxygen). The gaseous product can be flushed through lime water, turning it cloudy, proving that it is carbon dioxide. This is a chemical reaction since new products have been formed.

When completing this experiment it is worth noting that as the metal carbonate and carbon mixture is initially heated, it takes time before the carbonate decomposes. Therefore the first bubbles collected under displacement are just air from the apparatus. Also, when clearing up the experiment, it is important to remove the delivery tube from the water trough before the Bunsen burner is removed, otherwise suck back of the water will occur, which often causes thermal shock in the glassware.


Reduction of Copper Carbonate using Carbon

Demonstration Instructions

  1. Switch the Bunsen burner to maximum by increasing the slider bar. Then click on the test tube with the copper carbonate and open its reaction details.
  2. When the copper carbonate starts to undergo a chemical change press pause. Now select a stopper and put it into the top of the test tube and connect it to the test tube with calcium hydroxide in it. Play the simulation by clicking the pause button.
  3. By viewing the reaction details of the lime water it is possible to see that carbon dioxide is formed. The gas can be collected in the gas collector to get an idea of the rate of reaction.