To balance the equation Fe3O4 + NaOH = Fe(OH)2 + Fe(OH)3 + Na2O using the algebraic method step-by-step, you must have experience solving systems of linear equations. The most common methods are substitution/elimination and linear algebra, but any similar method will work.
Step 1: Label Each Compound With a Variable
Label each compound (reactant or product) in the equation with a variable to tát represent the unknown coefficients.
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a Fe3O4 + b NaOH = c Fe(OH)2 + d Fe(OH)3 + f Na2O
Step 2: Create a System of Equations
Create an equation for each element (Fe, O, Na, H) where each term represents the number of atoms of the element in each reactant or product.
Fe: 3a + 0b = 1c + 1d + 0f O: 4a + 1b = 2c + 3d + 1f Na: 0a + 1b = 0c + 0d + 2f H: 0a + 1b = 2c + 3d + 0f
Step 3: Solve For All Variables
Use substitution, Gaussian elimination, or a calculator to tát solve for each variable.
- 3a - 1c - 1d = 0
- 4a + 1b - 2c - 3d - 1f = 0
- 1b - 2f = 0
- 1b - 2c - 3d = 0
Use your graphing calculator's rref() function (or an online rref calculator) to tát convert the following matrix into reduced row-echelon-form:
[ 3 0 -1 -1 0 0] [ 4 1 -2 -3 -1 0] [ 0 1 0 0 -2 0] [ 0 1 -2 -3 0 0]
The resulting matrix can be used to tát determine the coefficients. In the case of a single solution, the last column of the matrix will contain the coefficients.
Simplify the result to tát get the lowest, whole integer values.
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- a = 1 (Fe3O4)
- b = 8 (NaOH)
- c = 1 (Fe(OH)2)
- d = 2 (Fe(OH)3)
- f = 4 (Na2O)
Step 4: Substitute Coefficients and Verify Result
Count the number of atoms of each element on each side of the equation and verify that all elements and electrons (if there are charges/ions) are balanced.
Fe3O4 + 8 NaOH = Fe(OH)2 + 2 Fe(OH)3 + 4 Na2O
Since there is an equal number of each element in the reactants and products of Fe3O4 + 8NaOH = Fe(OH)2 + 2Fe(OH)3 + 4Na2O, the equation is balanced.