14.1 Brønsted-Lowry Acids and Bases
A compound that can donate a proton (a hydrogen ion) to another compound is called a Brønsted-Lowry acid. The compound that accepts the proton is called a Brønsted-Lowry base. The species remaining after a Brønsted-Lowry acid has lost a proton is the conjugate base of the acid. The species formed when a Brønsted-Lowry base gains a proton is the conjugate acid of the base. Thus, an acid-base reaction occurs when a proton is transferred from an acid to a base, with formation of the conjugate base of the reactant acid and formation of the conjugate acid of the reactant base. Amphiprotic species can act as both proton donors and proton acceptors. Water is the most important amphiprotic species. It can form both the hydronium ion, H3O+, and the hydroxide ion, OH− when it undergoes autoionization:
The ion product of water, Kw is the equilibrium constant for the autoionization reaction:
14.2 pH and pOH
The concentration of hydronium ion in a solution of an acid in water is greater than 1.0 10−7 M at 25 °C. The concentration of hydroxide ion in a solution of a base in water is greater than 1.0 10−7 M at 25 °C. The concentration of in a solution can be expressed as the pH of the solution; pH = −log The concentration of OH− can be expressed as the pOH of the solution: pOH = −log[OH−]. In pure water, pH = 7.00 and pOH = 7.00
14.3 Relative Strengths of Acids and Bases
The strengths of Brønsted-Lowry acids and bases in aqueous solutions can be determined by their acid or base ionization constants. Stronger acids form weaker conjugate bases, and weaker acids form stronger conjugate bases. Thus strong acids are completely ionized in aqueous solution because their conjugate bases are weaker bases than water. Weak acids are only partially ionized because their conjugate bases are strong enough to compete successfully with water for possession of protons. Strong bases react with water to quantitatively form hydroxide ions. Weak bases give only small amounts of hydroxide ion. The strengths of the binary acids increase from left to right across a period of the periodic table (CH4 < NH3 < H2O < HF), and they increase down a group (HF < HCl < HBr < HI). The strengths of oxyacids that contain the same central element increase as the oxidation number of the element increases (H2SO3 < H2SO4). The strengths of oxyacids also increase as the electronegativity of the central element increases [H2SeO4 < H2SO4].
14.4 Hydrolysis of Salt Solutions
The characteristic properties of aqueous solutions of Brønsted-Lowry acids are due to the presence of hydronium ions; those of aqueous solutions of Brønsted-Lowry bases are due to the presence of hydroxide ions. The neutralization that occurs when aqueous solutions of acids and bases are combined results from the reaction of the hydronium and hydroxide ions to form water. Some salts formed in neutralization reactions may make the product solutions slightly acidic or slightly basic.
Solutions that contain salts or hydrated metal ions have a pH that is determined by the extent of the hydrolysis of the ions in the solution. The pH of the solutions may be calculated using familiar equilibrium techniques, or it may be qualitatively determined to be acidic, basic, or neutral depending on the relative Ka and Kb of the ions involved.
14.5 Polyprotic Acids
An acid that contains more than one ionizable proton is a polyprotic acid. The protons of these acids ionize in steps. The differences in the acid ionization constants for the successive ionizations of the protons in a polyprotic acid usually vary by roughly five orders of magnitude. As long as the difference between the successive values of Ka of the acid is greater than about a factor of 20, it is appropriate to break down the calculations of the concentrations of the ions in solution into a series of steps.
A solution containing a mixture of a weak acid and its conjugate base, or of a weak base and its conjugate acid, is called a buffer solution. The presence of a weak conjugate acid-base pair provides reactants that may neutralize small additions of strong acid or base, yielding weaker conjugate partners. The hydronium ion concentration of a buffer solution therefore does not change significantly when a small amount of acid or base is added.
14.7 Acid-Base Titrations
A titration curve is a graph that relates the change in pH of an acidic or basic solution to the volume of added titrant. The characteristics of the titration curve are dependent on the specific solutions being titrated. The pH of the solution at the equivalence point may be greater than, equal to, or less than 7.00. The choice of an indicator for a given titration depends on the expected pH at the equivalence point of the titration, and the range of the color change of the indicator.