Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that produces the characteristic smell of rotten eggs. It is also a component of natural gas and this is the primary source for commercial quantities of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide also may be prepared in the laboratory as a basic chemistry experiment. This is a common experiment because it uses readily available and the success of the experiment is easily verified from the smell.
Things You'll Need
- Hydrochloric acid
- Iron sulfide
- Kipp generator
Examine a Kipp generator. This piece of chemistry equipment is used to control chemical reactions that produce a gas. A Kipp generator consists of three chambers stacked on top of each other. The top chamber holds a liquid reagent, the middle chamber holds a solid reagent and the bottom chamber receives the liquid reagent when desired. The middle chamber has a gas release valve, and the top and bottom chambers are connected by a vertical tube that goes through the middle chamber.
Place iron sulfide (FeS) in the middle chamber of the Kipp generator and a strong acid such as hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the top chamber. Air pressure will prevent the acid from flowing into the bottom chamber at this point.
Heat the bottom chamber of the Kipp generator gently. This reaction will only require a small amount of heat in order to proceed at an acceptable rate.
Open the valve in the middle chamber of the Kipp generator. This will allow the acid to flow into the bottom chamber. Allow the acid to rise slowly into the middle chamber so that it makes contact with the iron sulfide in the middle chamber. Hydrogen sulfide will be produced and escape through the valve in the middle chamber of the Kipp generator.
Study the reaction in step 4 that produces hydrogen sulfide from iron sulfide and hydrochloric acid. This reaction may be shown as follows: FeS + 2HCl ' H2S + FeCl2. A similar reaction will occur with iron sulfide and any strong acid.
- Photo Credit Creighton University
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