The Effects of Acid Rain on Statues

The Effects of Acid Rain on Statues

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The Effects of Acid Rain on Statues


During this investigation, I will use dilute hydrochloric acid as the
acid rain and crushed calcium carbonate as the chemical of the
statues. Then I will time how long it takes for the limestone powder
to react until there is no more left when the acid is added to it.

Rain contains acid naturally as it collects carbon dioxide from the
air and makes carbonic acid. Rain normally has a pH of about 5.5 – it
is slightly acidic due to the carbon dioxide dissolved in it. It is a
stronger acid if gases like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides escape
into the air from the burning fossil fuels, because they are dissolved
by the rain and produce sulphuric and nitric acids that does more
damage in a faster time. Acid rain reacts with statues and buildings
that contain calcium carbonate and form carbon dioxide and water.

The dilute hydrochloric acid in this investigation will have the same
effect on the limestone as the acid rain on the statues. Yet, the
only difference is that in nature, the acid rain reacted with the
statue as a whole body, which takes approximately hundred years to
corrode the object, whereas the hydrochloric acid in this
investigation will take only few seconds to react with the limestone



The aim of my experiment is to investigate if the speed at which the
limestones are dissolved is changed by how concentrated the acid is.


To do my experiment, I will need beakers, a paper spoon, a stop clock,
limestone powders, stirring rod, measuring cylinders and an electronic
balance for powders


For this experiment, I will use 30mls of the acid each time and 1gm of
powdered calcium carbonate. The concentration of the acid will be
changed by adding water and less acid each time.

First, I will use a paper spoon to spoon out the limestone powder and
weigh it on the electronic balance. Next, take out the excess powder
until the weight is 1gm. Then use two measuring cylinders, with each
measuring the amount of water and dilute hydrochloric acid that should
be added, e.g. when there is 30mls of acid, 0mls of water will be
added; when there is 25mls of acid, 5mls of water will be added, and
so on. The total amount will always be 30mls. Afterwards, I will pour
the powder into a beaker that contain correct amount of acid in it and
use a stop clock to time how long it will take for the powder to
disappear. A stirring rod will be used so that no lumps would form.

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The following balanced equation illustrates what is going to happen
during the reaction:

2HCl(aq) + CaCo3(s) CaCl2(s) + H2O(l) + CO2(g)

I will take 5 readings and do each reading three times to make sure
that they are accurate. I will also work out the average of my
results and they will be organised into a table. A graph with line of
best fit will be drawn to illustrate my results and to identify the
faults within my experiment.

Risk Assessment

I will follow the following rules if I will do all my work safely.
The important things are:

* Concentrate on my own experiment; do not tamper with equipment that
is not part of my experiment.

* Wear safety glasses and apron.

* Follow directions carefully. Make sure I am using the correct
chemicals in correct quantities.

* Do not do experiments of my own devising without checking with my

* Write down my observations as soon as I have made them.

* Use clean apparatus. Wash up and tidy up after a practical lesson.
Put solid waste into bins, not into sinks.

* In case of any accidents, a cut or splash of some chemicals, e.g.
acid, wash with plenty of cold water and inform my teacher

* All glassware should be handled carefully to ensure no breakages.
If any breakage occurs, it should be cleaned and cleared away to avoid
any risk of injury.

* Wash my hands after the practical work.

Fair Test

My controlled variables in this experiment are the concentration of
the acid and the amount of limestone powder that will be added, so I
have to measure it carefully in order to obtain the best results and
keeping the test fair at the same time. It is important to keep the
reactants separate whilst setting up the apparatus so that the
starting time of the reaction can be measured accurately. The amount
of limestone powder will be carefully measured on the electronic
balance before the experiment, for if it is in irregular weight,
anomalous results would be obtained; less weight would increase the
speed, whereas more weight would decrease the speed.

Volume of the solution will remain constant throughout the experiment
– 30mls, though the concentration may vary. Same amount of water must
be added in order to keep the acidity constant and I will keep the
measuring cylinder on the bench to see whether the level of liquid are
accurate or not. I will also stir the solution with a glass rod to
make sure that no lumps form to influence the results.


There are six factors that will affect the rate of a chemical

* Concentration
* Particle size
* Pressure
* Temperature
* Light
* Presence of a catalyst

For this experiment, the pressure and light factors will not be
considered. Pressure only affects reactions that involve gases and
the exposure to light does not affect limestone.

In my experiment I am going to change the concentration of the acid.

Yet, before looking at the factors that can alter the rate of
reaction, we must first consider what happens when a reaction takes

First of all, the particles of the reacting substances must collide
with each other and, secondly, a fixed amount of energy called the
activation energy must be reached if the reaction is to take place.
If a collision between particles can produce sufficient energy (i.e.
if they collide fast enough and in the right direction) a reaction
will take place. Not all collisions will result in a reaction.

A reaction is speeded up if the number of suitable collisions is increased.

Activation energy
Increasing energy
Energy of reactants
Energy of products

The higher the concentration of the acid, I predict, the quicker the
speed at which the limestone powder is reacted. I think the time of
the reaction would increase quite regularly as the amount of water
increases in the solution. This is because:

In a dilute solution there are more water particles which get between
the acid and powder and so the average distance increase as acid has
to travel further to reach the powder. The water particles will slow
down the acid particles. When the acid collides with the powder, it
reacts if it has enough energy. If it does not have enough energy it
will bounce off and not react.

In a more concentrated solution, there are more of acid particles.
They can attack the powder more quickly and more of them can react at
the same time, as the water is not in the way as much. There will be
more of them with enough energy to react when they collide. More
collisions mean a faster reaction.

This also explains why the greatest rate of reaction is usually as
soon as the reactants are mixed, i.e. they are both at their highest
concentrations. As the reaction proceeds the concentrations of the
reacting substances decrease and the rate of reactions decreases.

But how will other factors influence my experiment if I am going to do
more tests on rates of reaction?

I predict that the powder would take more time to disappear when
there is more water. Because:

Using powders instead of a lump means that the surface area is
greater, which means a greater area of reactant is exposed and so
available for a collision. More collisions mean a faster reaction.

However, if the reactant is a lump, acid particles can collide only
with atoms on the outside of the substance as smaller surface area is
exposed, thus less collision and slower the reaction. This explains
why it takes hundreds of years for the acid rain to corrode the statue
as a whole body.

An increase in temperature produces an increase in the rate of
reaction. When the mixture is heated, the particles move faster.
This has two effects. Since the particles are moving faster, they
will travel a greater distance in a given time and so will be involved
in more collisions. Also because the particles are moving faster a
larger proportion of the collisions will exceed the activation energy
and so the rate of reaction increases.

A low temperature slows down the reaction rate, as in a cold solution,
the particles collide less often and with less energy.

A catalyst is a substance which can alter the rate of a reaction but
remains chemically unchanged at the end of the reaction. Catalyst
usually speed up reactions by proving an alternative pathway for the
reaction, i.e. one that has a much lower activation energy. More
collisions will, therefore, have enough energy for this new pathway.

Also, catalyst provides a surface for the molecules to attach to,
thereby increasing their chances of bumping into each other.

Energy path for usual reaction

Increasing energy



In my table of results I will put the amount of acid I used, amount of
water added; first time, second time and third time for the reaction
and the average time.


The units of my results will be:

* Amount of acid – mls
* Amount of water – mls
* Reaction time – seconds
* Amount of calcium carbonate - gm

Results table
Amount of Amount of water 1st Time for 2nd Time for 3rd Time for Average
acid mls water mls reaction secs reaction secs reaction secs Time secs

30.00 0.00 12.23 13.76 11.48 12.49
25.00 5.00 16.94 17.21 14.21 16.12
20.00 10.00 21.03 19.72 20.64 20.46
15.00 15.00 24.97 26.21 26.98 26.05
10.00 20.00 32.56 34.76 36.62 34.65


My results show that from 30mls of acid to 25mls of acid, the time for
the reaction went up by 3.63 seconds. The other average changes were
4.34 seconds between 25 and 20mls of acid, 5.59 seconds between 20 and
15mls of acid and 8.6 seconds between 15 and 10mls of acid.


I predicted that the higher the concentration of the acid, the quicker
the speed at which the limestone powder is reacted. The results I have obtained fit the general pattern of my prediction. The experiment shows that as the acid solution becomes more dilute the time for the reaction is longer. From the table of
results we can see that as the amount of water went up by 5mls, the
time did not go up regularly as I thought it would have. Thereby, my
prediction that the reaction would increase quite regularly as the
amount of water increases in the solution was inaccurate.


The three results at each concentration were reasonably accurate given
the limits of the experiment. The set of results that were nearest to
each other were with 20mls of acid where the range in time for the
reaction was 1.31 seconds. The largest range of results was 4.06
seconds with10mls of acid.

There are readings which seem to be out of the line of best fit; these can undermine my prediction. There is an anomalous result which I have circled around. It is probable that the acid is less concentrated than it ought to be as I might have added
more water in. The amount of powder may also have been weighted
wrongly, more could have been added and thereby there were more
reactions and took much longer to react.

Inaccuracy was due to human error, it was inevitable that some of the
limestone powder was left out or spilt when I was trying to put them
into the beaker, so less limestone powder is added and altered my

There were no results that were odd or left out of my calculation and
the apparatus and process I used were fine.

Looking at the overall experiment, I have thought of a number of
improvements to give me more and better accurate results. For this
experiment, the reliable results will only be obtained if I use the
equipment with precision and I could improve my results further if I
had time to repeat the experiment I could have done each test more
times e.g. 5 times for each concentration, but this would have taken
too long. I could also have used a gas syringe to measure the amount
of gas produced, so to give better results for rates of reaction. I
could extend this experiment by investigating the rate of reaction
with a different factor as opposed to average time taken. For
example, I could investigate the effect of surface area and
temperature on rate of reaction - I could use a lump of limestone and
then the same weight of powder to see if this changed the rate. I
could also heat the acid to see if the reaction went faster when there
was an increase in temperature. Finally, to make better investigation
with better quality results in the future, I would watch the
experiment more carefully and making sure that correct volumes of
water would be added.
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