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Mg ribbon burns with a very

bright white flame when held


in the bunsen flame with a
pair of tongs to form a white
powder.
We say the magnesium has
been oxidised.
2Mg + O
2
2MgO or
2Mg + O
2
2Mg
2+
+ 2O
2-
Each Mg loses 2 & each O gains 2 . This is transfer.
We say the Mg has been oxidized while the O has been
reduced to form MgO. This is a redox reaction.
Mg in O2
1
Mg
Mg
2+
+ 2

O + 2
O
2-
Oxidation
Reduction
Oxidation is the loss of , while
Reduction is the gain of .
Remember: Oilrig
Redox reaction
Redox reactions
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In a redox reaction there must be an oxidising agent
and a reducing agent.
The reducing agent is the substance oxidised while
the oxidising agent is the substance reduced.
2Mg + O
2
2 MgO
Mg is being oxidised & is thus the reducing agent.
O is being reduced & is thus the oxidising agent.
Mg has lost , while O has gained .
In redox reactions are transferred, while in acid-
base reactions H
+
are transferred.
Oxidising & reducing agents
3
Redox reactions can be written in 2 parts.
These are called half-reactions & show the
oxidation half-reaction and the reduction half-
reaction as 2 separate half-reactions.
The MgO reaction can be written as follows:
2Mg 2Mg + 4 Oxidation half reaction loss of
O
2
+ 4 2O
2-
Reduction half reaction gain of
Mg is the reducing agent & O is the oxidising agent.
There will always be a reducing & an oxidising half-
reaction in every redox reaction. Half reactions
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Sometimes it is difficult to identify which
substance is being oxidised or which is reduced.
Consider this reaction:
Mg(s) + Pb(NO
3
)
2
(aq) Pb(s) + Mg(NO
3
)
2
(aq)
The concept of oxidation numbers (O.N.) has
been established to help us identify which is
oxidised & which reduced.
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The oxidation number (O.N.) indicates how many
have been lost/gained in a redox reaction.
If the number is negative () means the atom gained
If + this means the atom lost
O.N. may then be used to identify the respective
oxidation and reduction half-reactions.
Oxidation numbers 6
Oxidation numbers
Look at the following oxidation reaction:
Zn Zn
2+
+ 2e
-

Oxidation numbers: 0 +2
Look at the following reduction reaction:
Cu
2+
+ 2e
-
Cu
Oxidation numbers: +2 0
Oxidation number or oxidation states
7
Oxidation Numbers
Oxidation is associated with an increase in
oxidation number.
Reduction is associated with a decrease in
oxidation number.
How do we determine oxidation numbers?
8
Rules for oxidation numbers
For an element that is not bonded, the oxidation
number is 0. e.g. in Na, Ca, H
2
, P
4
& S
8

The oxidation number for H is +1 except when it is
bonded to a metal (i.e. a metal hydride, KH, then -1).
The oxidation number for O is -2 except in peroxides
(where it is -1 e.g. in H
2
O
2
) and in a bond with F.
For a monatomic ion (Mg
2+
)

the oxidation number is
equal to the charge on the ion.
In a neutral substance all numbers add up to 0 and in a
polyatomic ion (PO
4
)
3-
it adds up to the charge of the
ion.


Rules for O.N.
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Examples
1. Determine the oxidation number of C in
H
2
CO
3

2(+1) + ox. num. (C) + 3x(-2) = 0
Oxidation number of C = +4
2. Determine the oxidation number of N in
NO
3
-

ox. num. (N) + 3x(-2) = -1
Oxidation number of N = +5
Finding an O.N.
10
Examples
Identify the oxidizing and reducing agent in
the following reaction:
2MnO
4
-
+ 5SO
2
+ 2H
2
O 2Mn
2+
+ 5SO
4
2-
+ 4H
+

There are no peroxides or hydrides in the
reaction, so all Hs are +1 and all Os are -2.
The rest are awarded as follows:
2MnO
4
-
+ 5SO
2
+ 2H
2
O 2Mn
2+
+ 5SO
4
2-
+ 4H
+
+7 +4 +2 +6
Manganese: decreases from +7 to +2 - MnO
4
-
is
the oxidizing agent.
Sulphur: increases from +4 to +6 - SO
2
is
the reducing agent.
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Elements such as S, N, P, Cu, C & Fe can have more
than one O.N.
Find the O.N. of the underlined element in each of
the following compounds/substances:
H
2
S, SO
3
, SO
2
, NH
3
, N, NO
2
, NO, K
2
Cr
2
O
7

-2 +6 +4 -3 0 +4 +2 +6

Oxidation numbers in different compounds
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Names of compounds in which there are elements
that have several O.N. are usually indicated with the
O.N. indicated between the words in Roman
numerals.
FeCl
3
is iron () chloride
Cu
2
O is copper () oxide
However, when it is a non-metal that has different
O.N. then we can use a prefix instead:
NO
2
is nitrogen dioxide OR nitrogen (lV) oxide
SO
3
is sulphur trioxide OR sulphur (Vl) oxide.
Balancing with O.N.
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