To balance the equation NO2 + H2O = HNO3 + NO using the algebraic method step-by-step, you must have experience solving systems of linear equations. The most common methods are substitution/elimination and linear algebra, but any similar method will work.
Step 1: Label Each Compound With a Variable
Label each compound (reactant or product) in the equation with a variable to tát represent the unknown coefficients.
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a NO2 + b H2O = c HNO3 + d NO
Step 2: Create a System of Equations
Create an equation for each element (N, O, H) where each term represents the number of atoms of the element in each reactant or product.
N: 1a + 0b = 1c + 1d O: 2a + 1b = 3c + 1d H: 0a + 2b = 1c + 0d
Step 3: Solve For All Variables
Use substitution, Gaussian elimination, or a calculator to tát solve for each variable.
- 1a - 1c - 1d = 0
- 2a + 1b - 3c - 1d = 0
- 2b - 1c = 0
Use your graphing calculator's rref() function (or an online rref calculator) to tát convert the following matrix into reduced row-echelon-form:
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[ 1 0 -1 -1 0] [ 2 1 -3 -1 0] [ 0 2 -1 0 0]
The resulting matrix can be used to tát determine the coefficients. In the case of a single solution, the last column of the matrix will contain the coefficients.
Simplify the result to tát get the lowest, whole integer values.
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- a = 3 (NO2)
- b = 1 (H2O)
- c = 2 (HNO3)
- d = 1 (NO)
Step 4: Substitute Coefficients and Verify Result
Count the number of atoms of each element on each side of the equation and verify that all elements and electrons (if there are charges/ions) are balanced.
3 NO2 + H2O = 2 HNO3 + NO
Since there is an equal number of each element in the reactants and products of 3NO2 + H2O = 2HNO3 + NO, the equation is balanced.