Problem: Valproic acid, used to treat seizures and bipolar disorder, is composed of C, H, and O. A 0.165-g sample is combusted to produce 0.166 g of water and 0.403 g of carbon dioxide.If the molar mass is 144 g/mol, what is the molecular formula?

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We’re being asked to determine the molecular formula of a Valproic Acid composed of C, H, and O given the combustion analysis, 0.165-g sample is combusted to produce 0.166 g of water and 0.403 g of carbon dioxide.


Recall that in combustion analysisa compound reacts with excess O2 to form products

For a compound composed of C, H, and O, the reaction looks like this:


CxHyOz + O2 (excess)  x CO2y H2O


This means we need to do the following steps:

Step 1: Calculate the mass of C and H in the compound.

Step 2: Calculate the mass of O in the compound.

Step 3: Determine the lowest whole number ratio of C, H, and O to get the empirical formula.

Step 4: Get the ratio of the molar mass and empirical mass to determine the molecular formula.


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Problem Details

Valproic acid, used to treat seizures and bipolar disorder, is composed of C, H, and O. A 0.165-g sample is combusted to produce 0.166 g of water and 0.403 g of carbon dioxide.

If the molar mass is 144 g/mol, what is the molecular formula?