Problem: Valproic acid, used to treat seizures and bipolar disorder, is composed of C, H, and O. A 0.165-g sample is combusted to produce 0.166 g of water and 0.403 g of carbon dioxide.What is the empirical formula for valproic acid?

FREE Expert Solution

We’re being asked to determine the empirical formula of valproic acid, a compound composed of C, H, and O

based on the given the combustion analysis.


Recall that in combustion analysisa compound reacts with excess O2 to form products


For a compound composed of C, H, and O, the reaction looks like this:


CxHyOz + O2 (excess)  x CO2y H2O


This means we need to do the following steps:

Step 1: Calculate the mass of C and H in the compound.

Step 2: Calculate the mass of O in the compound.

Step 3: Determine the lowest whole number ratio of C, H, and O to get the empirical formula.


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Problem Details

Valproic acid, used to treat seizures and bipolar disorder, is composed of C, H, and O. A 0.165-g sample is combusted to produce 0.166 g of water and 0.403 g of carbon dioxide.

What is the empirical formula for valproic acid?

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What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Combustion Analysis concept. You can view video lessons to learn Combustion Analysis. Or if you need more Combustion Analysis practice, you can also practice Combustion Analysis practice problems.