• The atom economy of a reaction is the percentage of atomic mass of useful products in a reaction. It is calculated by: AtomEconomy(%)=TotalatomicmassofproductsAtomicmassofusefulproducts∗100
• A high atom economy means that most of what the chemical process makes is useful! In the same way, a low atom economy tells you that a reaction is mostly producing unwanted waste products.
• The atom economy is used to show an efficient reaction that makes lots of valuable chemicals and not much waste product that will require disposal.
• A quick tip – reactions with a single product have a 100% atom economy because the only chemical being produced is the desired product.
• The percentage yield of a reaction is the mass of products formed as a percentage of how much could have been formed given the mass of reactants used.
• A low percentage yield means that not much of the reactants you used has become products. A high percentage yield therefore means that a lot of the reactant chemicals you used successfully reacted to make the products.
• KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between the two! Atom economy is about how wasteful the reaction is, and yield is about how much reactant was successfully converted to products!
In this lesson, we will learn:
• To understand the definitions of atom economy and percentage yield and the difference between them.
• To calculate atom economy and percentage yield from example chemical reactions.
• To explain the importance of atom economy as a chemist when planning chemical reactions and processes.
Why do chemists do chemical reactions?
Water can be produced by reaction of hydrogen and oxygen gas according to this equation:
2 H2+O2→2 H2O
The reaction to make iron metal by reduction uses carbon. CO2 is an unwanted side-product. The reaction is as follows:
2 Fe2O3+3 C→3 CO2+4 Fe
Magnesium reacts with hydrochloric acid as shown in the following equation:
Percentage yield and atom economy
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