I'm taking my second year of chemistry (AP) in high school, and this is a question pertaining to a lab in which we first synthesized copper sulfate pentahydrate, and then analyzed it.
The process for this part of the lab is as follows:
1. Weigh out .10 - .15 grams of the copper sulfate hydrate (CSH) in a 250 mL Erlenmeyer flask.
2. Dissolve in 10-20 mL of water.
3. Add 10 mL of 1M NH4Cl.
4. Add 3M of NH4OH until solution is clear blue.
5. Dilute in 50-100 mL of water.
6. Add 1.31 g of Murexide indicator.
7. Titrate with standard 0.020 M ethylenediamine-tetracetic acid (EDTA) until solution is violet.
9. Calculate percent of copper in CSH, and take the average of the two experimental values.
My question is about the error analysis. The experimental value I got (Average of two trials) turned out to be 23.1%, and the actual value is 25.5%, so the percent error is only 9.41%.
In my error analysis, I proposed that the titration does not fully go through because the free-floating Sulfate (SO4(2-)) ions in solution act as bronsted-lowry acids, and therefore less EDTA is used. But it has since then dawned on me that all Sulfates (Except Pb, Ba, and Hg, of course) are soluble, and that the sulfate ions have no effect on the titration.
My second thought was that either the copper does not fully combine with the ammonia (coming from the ammonium hydroxide, which decomposes into ammonia and water), or that not all of the murexide replaces the ammonia and complexes with copper, or a combination of the two. Except that there's no reason for either of these deficiencies, and so they don't work.
So in conclusion, I'd greatly appreciate it if someone could suggest a better explanation for the error ("human error" doesn't count). I've given this much thought, and just can't think of it. Thanks!