Problem: Explain why CO2 and CCl4 are both nonpolar even though they contain polar bonds.

🤓 Based on our data, we think this question is relevant for Professor Burkhow's class at ISU.

FREE Expert Solution

For CO2

Step 1: Carbon (EN = 2.5) is less electronegative than oxygen (EN = 3.5) so carbon is the central atom


Step 2: The total number of valence electrons present in CO2 is:


            Group             Valence Electrons

C          4A                   1 × 4 e4 e

O          6A                  2 × 6 e12 e

Total: 16 valence e


Step 3: Fluorine only forms 1 bond

The Lewis structure is:



Step 4: The electronegativity difference between C and O is 1.0 so the C–O bond is polar. Recall that dipole arrows point towards the more electronegative atom

Step 5: We can see that dipole arrows point at opposite directions so they cancel out

This means there is no net dipole in the molecule, making it nonpolar.


Therefore, CO2 is a polar molecule.



For CCl4

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Problem Details

Explain why CO2 and CCl4 are both nonpolar even though they contain polar bonds.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 Molecular Polarity concept. You can view video lessons to learn Molecular Polarity. Or if you need more Molecular Polarity practice, you can also practice Molecular Polarity practice problems.

What professor is this problem relevant for?

Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Burkhow's class at ISU.