Problem: Determine the empirical and molecular formulas of each of the following substances.Styrene, a compound substance used to make Styrofoam® cups and insulation, contains 92.3% C and 7.7% H by mass and has a molar mass of 104 g/mol.

FREE Expert Solution

Molecular formula is a chemical formula that gives the total number of the atoms of elements in a compound.


Empirical formula is a chemical formula that gives the relative proportions of elements in a compound but not the actual number of atoms of elements in a compound.


In this problem, we are provided with mass percentages of C and H for styrene. We will calculate the empirical formula through these steps:

  • Dividing the percentages of C and H by their average atomic masses.
  • Dividing the obtained numbers by the smallest number among them.
  • Rounding off the final numbers to get coefficients of C and H.


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Problem Details

Determine the empirical and molecular formulas of each of the following substances.

Styrene, a compound substance used to make Styrofoam® cups and insulation, contains 92.3% C and 7.7% H by mass and has a molar mass of 104 g/mol.

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