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What is a gravimetric analysis of a metal carbonate?

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A gravimetric analysis of a metal carbonate is a process used to determine the chemical composition of an unknown metal carbonate. The metal carbonate is weighed, dissolved in water and a solution of calcium chloride is added. Calcium carbonate precipitated from this reaction is filtered, dried and then weighed. This obtained mass is used to calculate the molar mass of the metal carbonate and determine the metal in the compound.

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The carbonate ions that bond with the calcium are donated from the unknown metal carbonate, hence, the moles of calcium carbonate must equal the moles of the unknown metal carbonate. From this relationship, the relationship between the atomic masses of the elements can be determined and thus the atomic mass of the unknown metal element.

Gravitational analysis is advantageous because it allows for an absolute and direct method of measurement, which uses inexpensive apparatus with a high degree of accuracy and precision. Also, possible sources of errors are easily checked since all products are examined for the presence of impurities. However, it is disadvantageous in that it is a time-consuming process that involves large samples compared to other analytical methods. Thus, gravitational analysis is reserved for applications such as testing and calibrating instrumental techniques and analyses requiring high degrees of accuracy.

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