Advanced Level Inorganic chemistry: 3d block-transition metal hydrated ions and acidity of complex ions

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 Appendix 1 Hydrated salts, metal–aqua complex ions and their relative acidity

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Examples of hydrated salts are described and water of crystallisation explained. The reason why many salts of metals do not dissolve to give neutral solutions i.e. many are acidic because hexa–aqua ions of transition metals and other metals like aluminium behave as Bronsted Lowry acids in a process sometimes described as salt hydrolysis. The effect of ion charge and the ionic radius on the acidity of the hydrated ions is described and explained by considering the polarising power of the central metal ion. Examples are described of both 3d-block transition hydrated metal ions and non-transition metal hydrated complex ions

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Appendix 1. Hydrated salts, metal–aqua complex ions and their relative acidity, salt hydrolysis

(not necessarily just transition metal ions)

  • All metal ions in solution are 'associated' with water. The water molecules can also be weakly bonded or more strongly as a ligand to form a complex ion, and these can also present in solid 'hydrated' salts on crystallisation e.g.

    • FeSO4.7H2O(s), CoCl2.6H2O(s), CuSO4.5H2O(s) etc.

      • Iron(II) sulfate heptahydrate, cobalt(II) chloride hexahydrate and copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate.

      • The above crystals contain 7, 6 and 5 molecules of water of crystallisation respectively.

      • A hexa–aqua ion is present in the first two, [M(H2O)6]2+ (M = Fe, Co)

    • What is the difference between water of crystallization and the co–ordinated water molecules bonded to the central metal ion via the dative covalent bonds?

      • There may or not be a difference!

      • The water of crystallisation is the total number of water molecules incorporated into the crystal structure irrespective of the nature of the chemical bonding involved OR any intermolecular associations.

        • The case of copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate is considered below, where 4/5 water molecules are ligands and the 5th water molecule is held in place by hydrogen bonding.

        • However in the case of magnesium chloride (magnesium isn't a transition metal), the crystal lattice consists of hexaaqua magnesium ions and chloride ions.

          • Cl <=> [Mg(H2O)6]2+ <=> Cl are all bonded together by electrostatic attraction in the crystal lattice.

          • No hydrogen bonding is involved, and the number of molecules of water of crystallisation is equal to the ligand coordination number of the central metal ion.

            • Just in passing, a complex ion is a complex ion, it doesn't matter if the central metal ion isn't a 3d block transition metal ion etc. Its still the same sort of structure with the same sort of bonding and shape.

    • In the case of copper(II) sulfate, 4 water molecules are covalently bonded to form effectively a square planar complex ion,

      • [Cu(H2O)4]2+ and the 5th water molecule H2O is hydrogen bonded to this ion and hydrogen bonded to a neighbouring sulfate ion

        • SO42– thus helping to hold the crystal lattice together, though the main force of attraction is the electrostatic attraction between copper complex ion and the sulfate ion.

        • Therefore, the water of crystallisation number doesn't equal the co–ordination number of the central metal ion.

      • ... H–O–H ... are the three components of the crystal structure of copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate, and all three are linked by hydrogen bonds. The full structure is a bit complicated to draw but the 5th and 6th octahedral positions of the Cu2+ ion are occupied by oxygen atoms of the sulfate ion and the 5th water molecule is held in position by hydrogen bonding.

      • However, this blue crystal lattice is readily broken down on heating, a classical demonstration of a reversible reaction, since the white anhydrous solid turns blue on adding water (a simple test for water.

      • CuSO4.5H2O(s) CuSO4(s) + 5H2O(g/l)

    • So three words–phrases to know ...

      • Water of crystallisation – the molecules of water incorporated into the crystal structure either by acting as a ligand to a metal ion (e.g. four in hydrated CuSO4) or just hydrogen bonded into the lattice (one in hydrated CuSO4), so a total of five molecules of water of crystallisation as discussed above.

        • The term originates from analysis of salts crystallised from water.

      • Hydrated salt – lattice contains molecules of associated water e.g. water of crystallisation in the case of salts.

      • Anhydrous salt – devoid of water molecules in the crystal lattice e.g. dehydrated salts which can crystallise with water of crystallisation.

      • It should be pointed out that the term anhydrous is used quite generally to mean a substance has had all water–moisture removed from it.

    • See also Calculations of water of crystallization – % composition & simple experimental determination.

  • Lewis acid–base theory reminders:

    • A base is an electron pair donor and an acid is an electron pair acceptor.

    • Ligands like water, can donate a pair of non–bonding electrons (lone pair) into a vacant orbital of a central metal ion and so dative covalent (co–ordinate) bonds hold a complex together.

    • The central metal ion with vacant bonding orbitals can act as a Lewis acid.

    • Ligands act as Lewis bases by electron pair donation to form the metal–ligand bond.

  • Bronsted–Lowry acid–base theory reminders (essentially a sub–set of Lewis Theory)

    • For more details see Equilibria Part 5

    • A base is a proton acceptor.

      • This is via an electron lone pair on the base (a Lewis base is a lone pair donor).

      • e.g. NH3, HCO3, OH etc.

    • An acid is proton donor.

      • This involves a heterolytic breakage of an X–H bond (a Lewis acid is an electron pair acceptor).

      • e.g. HCl, HCO3, H2SO4, CH3COOH etc.

  • Many hexa–aqa complex ions can undergo acid–base reactions with water to produce solutions of pH less than 7.

    • Usually group 2, 3 and transition metal ions.

    • The positive central metal ion polarises a water molecule, releasing a proton, H+.

    • In the deprotonation reaction the proton transfers to water and the overall charge on the complex falls by 1 unit since the H2O – H+ = OH, i.e. one of the ligands is now a hydroxide ion.

    • In these reactions the hydrated ions act as Bronsted Lowry acids and water acts as a Bronsted–Lowry base.

    • These reactions are examples of what is termed 'salt hydrolysis' because the metal ion (of usually a salt) reacts with water to give, in this case, two products.

    • These are acid–base reactions NOT redox reactions, even if they involve transition metal ions – there is NO change in oxidation state of the metal!

  • e.g. for hexaaquametal(II) ions ...

  • [M(H2O)6]2+(aq) + H2O(l) (c) doc b [M(H2O)5(OH)]+(aq) + H3O+(aq) 

    • e.g. when M = Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Mg etc. gives a very weak acid solutions with pH's just less than 7.

      • Ti(II), V(II) and Cr(II) M2+ ions are redox unstable in the presence of air, but theoretically their salts give very weakly acid solutions.

      • They are usually prepared by zinc–acid reduction from higher oxidation states.

  • e.g.  for hexaaquametal(III) ions ...

  • [M(H2O)6]3+(aq) + H2O(l) (c) doc b [M(H2O)5(OH)]2+(aq) + H3O+(aq) 

    • e.g. when M = Ti, V, Cr, Fe, Al etc. give very weak acids solutions (but generally stronger than for M2+) of pH's in the 3–5 region.

    • In the presence of alkali, OH, in removing H3O+ ions, the  equilibrium moves more to the right and more protons are lost from the complex in stages until the hydroxide precipitate is formed e.g. for iron(III), chromium(III) or aluminium.

      • [M(H2O)6]3+(aq) + 3OH(aq) [M(H2O)3(OH)3]0(s) + 3H2O(l) 

    • Some of the M3+ hydroxides are amphoteric and dissolve in excess alkali (1.) or acid (2.) e.g. to eventually form for chromium(III) or aluminium, 1. the soluble hexa–hydroxo complex anion or 2. the original hexa–aqua cation.

      1. [M(H2O)3(OH)3]0(aq) + 3OH(aq)  [M(OH)6]3–(aq)+ 3H2O(l) 

      2. [M(H2O)3(OH)3]0(s) + 3H3O+(aq)  [M(H2O)6]3+(aq) + 3H2O(l)

      3. Reactions 1. and 2. apply to ions such as Al3+ or Cr3+.

  • As a general rule the greater the polarising power of the central metal ion, the lower the pH of the resulting aqueous solution, i.e. the acid–base equilibrium is shifted more to the right causing an increase in acidity of the solution.

    • This effect and process facilitated by the central metal ion on one water ligand molecule can be envisaged as

      • [M–O–H2]n+ ==> [M–O–H](n–1)+ + H+ (proton transferred to a water molecule)

      • One of the O–H bond pairs is 'attracted' onto the oxygen atom by the electric field effect of the central metal ion of charge n+, allowing proton transfer to the base water.

    • Polarising power is a function of ionic charge/ionic radius ratio. therefore ...

      • the greater the metal ion charge (n+), the more acidic the hexaaqua ion, hence a lower pH solution,

      • and the smaller the radius of the metal ion, the more acidic the hexaaqua ion, hence a lower pH solution,

      • so ...

    • both increasing charge, or decreasing the central cation radius intensify the electric field polarising effect on a water ligand which facilitates proton donation from the complex ion to a free water molecule.

  • The acidity of the hexaaqua ions M3+(aq) due to the polarising influence of the central highly charged M3+ ion accounts for the lack of stability/existence of e.g. aluminium carbonate, iron(III) carbonate or chromium(III) carbonate, whereas MgCO3 , ZnCO3 and FeCO3 etc. with the less polarising M2+ ion exist. It also accounts for why you see bubbles of carbon dioxide when carbonates/hydrogencarbonates are mixed with aluminium chloride, iron(III) chloride or chromium(III) chloride solutions e.g.

    • 2[Fe(H2O)6]3+(aq) + CO32–(aq) 2[Fe(H2O)5(OH)]2+(aq) + H2O(l) + CO2(g)   

    • or [M(H2O)6]3+(aq) + HCO3(aq) [M(H2O)5(OH)]2+(aq) + H2O(l) + CO2(g)

    • There several legitimate permutations based on these equations.

  • Amphoteric nature of ions such as Al3+ or Cr3+

    • In the above chemistry the acidic nature of the hexa–aqua ions was emphasised, BUT as soon as one proton has been lost the resulting complex ion can then act as a base.

    • e.g. in solutions of the weakly acidic  Cr3+ or Al3+ species with excess strong acid the hexa–aqua ion would predominate

    • [M(H2O)4(OH)2]+(aq) + 2H+(aq) (c) doc b [M(H2O)6]3+(aq)

The sequence of chromium(III) hydroxide precipitate formation and its subsequent dissolving in excess strong alkali. Each step is essentially one of proton removal from each complex (from 3+ to 3–).
1 2 3 4 From 1 to 7 happen as you add more alkali, increasing pH and the OH concentration, removing protons from the complex.
5 6 7 * From 7 back to1 represents what happens when you add acid, decreasing pH, increasing H+/H3O+ concentration and protonating the complex.
The sequence of aluminium hydroxide precipitate formation and its subsequent dissolving in excess strong alkali. Each step is essentially one of proton removal from each complex (from 3+ to 3–).

A level Revision notes for GCE Advanced Subsidiary Level AS Advanced Level A2 IB Revise AQA GCE Chemistry OCR GCE Chemistry Edexcel GCE Chemistry Salters Chemistry CIE Chemistry, WJEC GCE AS A2 Chemistry, CCEA/CEA GCE AS A2 Chemistry revising courses for pre–university students (equal to US grade 11 and grade 12 and AP Honours/honors level courses)

INORGANIC Part 10 3d block TRANSITION METALS sub–index:

10.1–10.2 Introduction to 3d–block Transition Metal chemistry

10.3 Scandium * 10.4 Titanium * 10.5 Vanadium  *  10.6 Chromium * 10.7 Manganese  *  10.8 Iron

10.9  Cobalt * 10.10 Nickel * 10.11 Copper * 10.12 Zinc  *  10.13 Other Transition Metals e.g. Ag and Pt

Appendix 1. Hydrated salts, acidity of hexa–aqua ions * Appendix 2. Complexes & ligands

Appendix 3. Complexes and isomerism * Appendix 4. Electron configuration & colour theory

Appendix 5. Redox equations, feasibility, Eø * Appendix 6. Catalysis * Appendix 7. Redox equations

Appendix 8. Stability Constants of complexes and entropy changes

Appendix 9. Colorimetric analysis and complex ion formula * Appendix 10 3d block – extended data table

Appendix 11 3d–block compounds - transition metal complexes, oxidation states & electrode potentials

Appendix 12 Hydroxide complex precipitate 'pictures', formulae and equations

Advanced Level Inorganic Chemistry Periodic Table Index: Part 1 Periodic Table history * Part 2 Electron configurations, spectroscopy, hydrogen spectrum, ionisation energies * Part 3 Period 1 survey H to He * Part 4 Period 2 survey Li to Ne * Part 5 Period 3 survey Na to Ar * Part 6 Period 4 survey K to Kr and important trends down a group * Part 7 s–block Groups 1/2 Alkali Metals/Alkaline Earth Metals * Part 8  p–block Groups 3/13 to 0/18 * Part 9 Group 7/17 The Halogens * Part 10 3d block elements & Transition Metal Series * Part 11 Group & Series data & periodicity plots * All 11 Parts have their own sub–indexes near the top of the pages


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