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Melwyn V.

1 ChE D
Group No. 5

Instructor: Mr. George Y. Chao Jr.

Date Performed: October 10, 2014
Date Submitted: November 7, 2014

Experiment no. 7
Determination of the Molecular Weight of a Volatile Liquid
The Dumas method of molecular weight determination, by Jean Baptiste Andr Dumas,
is an appropriate method to determine the molecular weight of an unknown substance or a
volatile liquid. This method is based on the ideal gas equation (PV=nRT) from which three state
variables can be characterized: the absolute pressure (P), volume (V), and the absolute
temperature (T). Through the relationship between them, the molecular weight can be obtained
by deriving the formula.
A 5.0 ml of an unknown volatile liquid enclosed in a flask was heated through a hot water
bath to a known temperature while the vapors were allowed to escape from the container
through a pinhole, as seen on figure 1. Once the liquid has vaporized, the container was cooled
to room temperature. By subtracting weight of the flask with the vapor and the weight of the
empty flask, the mass of the unknown vapor was calculated. With the same but empty flask, the
volume can be measured by recording the amount of water it can contain. Using all the data
gathered, the molecular weight of the unknown liquid was determined by deriving the equation
from the Ideal Gas Law.

When all the data needed was gathered (Table 2), the molecular weight along with the
other properties of gas was computed (Table 3) using conversion and/or the derivation of
formula from the Ideal Gas Law as seen on Table 1.
Table 1. Formulas Used / Conversion Factors
Molecular Weight (MW)
Celsius to Kelvin (K)
C + 273.15 K
Temperature of boiling water
93 C
100 mL
1 atm
1.315789474x10-3 mmHg
Table 2. Information Gathered
State variables
Data gathered
Barometric Pressure
754 mmHG
Temperature of boiling water
93 C
W(flask + foil + vapor) ( Wt1)
41.13 g
W(flask + foil) ( Wt2)
41.05 g
Capacity of the Erlenmeyer flask
58.7 ml
93C + 273.15 K = 366.15 K

58.7 mL x 1 L = 0.0587 L
41.13 g - 41.05 g = 0.08 g
100 mL
Molecular Weight
754 mmHg x 1 atm
= .992 atm
(0.08 g)(0.08205 L-atm/mol-K)(365.15 K) = 41.16 g/mol
760 mmHg
(0.992 atm)(0.0587 L)
or 4x10 -1

Properties of gas
Molecular Weight

Table 3. Properties of Gas

Data gathered
0.992 atm
366.15 K
0.0587 L
0.08 g

Molecular weight can be derived from the Ideal Gas Law (PV=nRT) because mole (n) is
also equals to the weight (wt) divided by the molecular weight (MW). In addition to that, all
factors needed to solve for the molecular weight is given; Pressure can be determined using the
Barometer found in the laboratory, Volume, Temperature, and the Weight of the unknown can be
identified during the experiment, and the R is the ideal gas constant which is 0.08205 L-atm/mol-K .

With the help of the Dumas method, the molecular weight of the unknown can be
specified by doing such experiments. This is because the molecular weight of a gas can be
determined using its vapor density and the Ideal Gas Law. Using simple laboratory equipment
and techniques like the Erlenmeyer flask containing the unknown liquid, with a foil cover with a
pinhole, the weight of the vapor can be specified. The use of the pinhole on the foil is that so the
excess pressure from the vapor inside the flask when heated can be released, and as it cools
down the exact/right pressure inside the flask can be attained. If the hole is too big, the weight
of the vapor could not be measured because all of the vapor pressure will be released and it will
evaporate, and if it is too small, too much pressure will be left inside the flask resulting to a
different output when computed.
The Molecular weight of a volatile liquid can be determined using the ideal gas equation.
It is proved to be right by doing the experiment given, thou some error made by the group
affected the results of this experiments. The some of the vaporized liquid was released because
the lid/cover was opened a little bit when the experiment was ongoing ad being conducted, thus
resulting to 53% percentage error from the actual value of the unknown liquid (ethyl acetate)
which is 88.1 g/mol.
1. Deriving Molar Mass Equation from Ideal Gas Law. (April 22, 2013). Retrieved from Youtube
Website:, date visited:
November 1, 2014
2. Determination of the Molar Mass of a Volatile Liquid by Vapor Density. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Chemtopics Website:, date
visited:November 2, 2014
3. Ideal Gas Law. (n.d.). Retrieved from Hyperphysics
Website:, date
visited: November 2, 2014
4. Levine, S. "Derivation of the Ideal Gas Law." Journal of Chemical Education.1985,
Vol. 62,Iss. 5, pgs. 399.
5. Molar Mass of a Volatile Liquid by the Dumas Method. (n.d.). Retrieved from Lemoyne
Website:, date visited:
November 2, 2014
6. Vapor Pressure and Molecular Weight of a Pure Liquid.(n.d.). Retrieved from Colby
Website:, date
visited: November 1, 2014