The Concept of Volumetric Analysis
Volumetric analysis is a quantitative analysis involving the measurement of different solutions. These solutions are made to react completely and the completion of the reaction is indicated by certain substances called indicators. The quantitative composition of the solution is then determined.
Important steps of volumetric analysis include:
- Preparation of the solution;
- Titration; and
In volumetric analysis, we deal with volumes of solutions. That is why this quantitative determination of solutions of substances is called volumetric analysis.
The amount of a substance present in a solution is given in terms of its volume and its concentration. The volume of a solution is usually given in litres (dm3). The concentration of a solution is given in moles per litre (mol/dm3) or grams per litre (g/dm3).
Volumetric analysis is a means of finding the concentration of an
unknown solution. For example, the
concentration of an unknown solution of an acid can be found if it is reacted with a standard solution of an alkali. A standard solution is one whose concentration is well known and does not change with time.
In volumetric analysis, the reaction is carried out in a carefully controlled way. The volumes are measured accurately using a pipette and burette. The method is to add a solution of one reactant to the solution of another reactant until the reaction is complete. When the reaction is complete, we say the end-point has been reached. If the reactants are acids and bases, completion (end-point) is determined by the change in colour of an acid-base indicator. The method is called titration. In other reactions, completion is determined by a colour change of reactant(s). The concentration of one of the reactant solutions must be known in order to be able to find the concentration of unknown solution.
We have seen that volumetric analysis involves determinations of quantities of substances, usually acids and alkalis, present in volumes of solutions. This is usually done by using measuring apparatus.
Apparatus used in volumetric analysis is based on volume measurements and since the analysis demands high accuracy, the apparatus has to be calibrated with the highest possible accuracy. It is for this reason that all apparatus for volumetric analysis are specifically for this and not other purposes.
Apparatus used for volumetric analysis include, burette, pipette, burette stand, white tile, conical flask, filter funnel, reagent bottle, watch glass, beaker, measuring cylinder and measuring flask (or volumetric flask). For approximate measurements, measuring cylinders may be used. For accurate measurements of volumes, volumetric flasks are used.
This is a long glass tube with a narrow lower part, which is fitted with a tap that controls the amount of solution let out of the burette. This instrument is calibrated from 0 to 50 cm3.
Before measuring the solution, rinse the burette with distilled water, then with the solution it is going to hold. It has to be filled to the tip and all gas bubbles removed. Thus, the burette is an apparatus used for transferring the solution to the titration vessel (normally a flask).
This apparatus has a wider middle part with narrow parts at either ends. The upper narrow part has a mark which marks the volume of all the space below it. If, say, the pipette is one that is marked 25 cm3, we can say that a solution, when filled in the pipette up to this mark, will have a volume of 25 cm3.
The pipette is used in transferring a standard solution to the titration flask. There are many types of pipettes depending on their volume capacity. The common ones are the 25-cm3 and 20-cm3 capacity pipettes. Less common ones are the 10-cm3 capacity.Before measuring the solution, rinse the pipette several times with distilled water and then with the solution to be measured; suck the rinsing solution above the graduated mark, then discard the rinsing.
The pipette is commonly filled by mouth suction but the use of pipette fillers is highly recommended. When using a pipette, never blow out the last drop.
The flask is made of glass and has a mark at the upper part of the narrow tube. The space in the flask up to this mark represents a certain volume.
If a solution is filled up to this mark, the volume of the solution is equal to the volume indicated by inscriptions on the flask e.g. 50 cm3, 100 cm3, 150 cm3, 250 cm3, 500 cm3, etc.
A filter funnel is required for effective transfer of the weighed solid, liquid or solution into the volumetric flask or burette.
A filter funnel
Wash bottle contains water and when squeezed, water squarts out. This is used in washing down the remains of the weighed solid into the volumetric flask.
A wash bottle
A weighing bottle
This is used in weighing the solute. It is a stoppered bottle. A watch glass can also be used to serve the same purpose.
<> Use in preparation of standard solutions:
Standard solutions are prepared by applying the knowledge of volumetric analysis. Volumetric analysis is used in school, college and university chemistry laboratories to determine concentrations of unknown substances.
The titrant (the known solution) is added to a known quantity of analyte (unknown solution) and a reaction takes place. Knowing the volume of the titrant allows one to determine the concentration of the unknown substance.
<> Use in environmental and water safety
Titration is important in environmental chemistry, where scientists can use it to analyze acid rain or contaminants in surface water samples. Environmental studies usually involve an analysis of precipitation and its response to pollution.
To quantify the degree of contamination in natural rainwater or snow, titration is used. The process is quick and results are reliable. Since most titration processes do not require expensive or specialized equipment, the test can be performed often and in different areas with relatively little effort.The safety of water is based on its chemical ingredients.
By analyzing wastewater, the extent of contamination and the requirements for filtering and cleaning can be determined. Titration is a key mechanism in this analysis. Often, more specialized titration equipment is used in this application, which measures ammonia levels in combination with other reactants to quantify other chemicals present.
<> Use in food and beverage industry
In the food and beverage industry, manufacturers must ensure their products meet certain quality criteria or contain standard concentrations of specific additives, so titration is often used to analyze the products before sale. Wine is often affected by its degree of acidity.
It is possible to improve wine production by measuring acidity using titration. Simple, inexpensive titration kits are available to winemakers for this purpose. The results of a titration test on wine can suggest if additional ingredients are necessary to maintain its quality.In general, all brewing industries and distilleries apply the knowledge of volumetric analysis (titration) to determine the acidity and alcohol contents of their beers and other alcoholic beverages.
The process also finds ample use in food industry. The compounds which make up food products help determine their nutritional implications. Titration is one technique that assists in these studies. The acidity of orange juice, for example, is easily determined using a standard titration process.
In this process, an electrode is added to a solution made up of orange juice and deionized water. The titrant catalyst then measures the acidity of the juice. Manufacturers can use the technique to vary this quality to satisfy customers or those with special nutritional needs.
<> Use in agriculture
Volumetric analysis technique is used to determine the soil pH. This is important because, if the pH of a certain soil is found to be extremely low or high, corrective measures are taken by adding the correct quantity of agricultural limes or other chemicals to make the soil suitable for plant growth.
The method is also used by agronomists and farmers to analyse the kind and amount of plant nutrient elements present in a particular sample of soil, the knowledge of which helps determine soil fertility.
Industrial and Laboratory Skills of Volumetric Analysis
Compare industrial and laboratory skills of volumetric analysis
The knowledge of volumetric analysis (titration) is used in hospitals and medical laboratories to carry out such duties as preparation of solutions and suspensions, blood analysis, and diagnosis of certain diseases and health problems.
For example, when dissolving a solid drug to make a solution for injection, utmost precision is required to measure the correct volume of liquid to be used to dissolve a correct amount of solid drug to prepare the solution of a given concentration to inject to a patient.
Also titration is very important in the pharmaceutical industry, where precise measurements of quantities and concentrations are essential throughout the manufacturing process.
Titration is thus an important part of the pharmaceutical industry to ensure quality control. Many variations of the titration technique are used, and specialized equipment for pharmaceutical titration is often developed to make the process more efficient.