I got a solution which density is $\pu{1.035 g mL-1}$ and it contains soluble salt $\ce{Ba(NO3)2}$ at concentration of $\pu{0.250 M}$. The teacher is asking from me to "clear" the solution from the $\ce{Ba^2+}$ ions by using a sedimentation with $\ce{PO4^3-}$ ions that the concentration of $\ce{Ba^2+}$ would be less than $\pu{7.00 ppb}$.

Then she is asking if its possible (well yes it is, but I don't know how to explain this though)? And, if it is possible, what would be the weight of the soluble salt $\ce{Na3PO4}$ that we need to put into a $\pu{50.0 mL}$ of the solution?

And I got the $K_\mathrm{sp}(\ce{Ba3(PO4)2}) = \pu{4.03e-25}$.

Now I probably started by making the right ions equation, which is:

$$\ce{2 Na3PO4 + 3 Ba(NO3)2 -> 6 NaNO3 + Ba3(PO4)2}$$

Then, I calculated the net mass of the solution by multiplying the given density $\pu{1035 g L-1}$ by given Volume $\pu{0.05 L}$.

And finally I calculated the amount of $\ce{Ba(NO3)2}$ and of $\ce{Na3PO4}$ which are $\pu{0.0125 mol}$ and $\pu{0.0083 mol}$, respectively.

That is the point where I don't know how to mix all this information and to get the right answer.

The final answer: It's possible. If we will put more than $\pu{1.80 g}$ of $\ce{Na3PO4}$ to $\pu{50.0 mL}$ of the solution, the ion concentration of $\ce{Ba^2+}$ will be less than $\pu{7.0 ppb}$.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to Chemistry.SE. Please visit this page, this page and this one on how to edit this post or format your future posts better with MathJax and Markdown. Also, note that "I calculated the moles of" should read "I calculated the amount of" instead. Just like you would say "I calculated the mass of" not "I calculated the kg of". Anyway, best of luck with your question! $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Dec 7, 2017 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your comment. Ill remember that for the next time :) @airhuff $\endgroup$
    – Mabadai
    Dec 7, 2017 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Chemgoat regarding your edit: that's not how you use mhchem. Please do refer to How can I format math/chemistry expressions here?. \pu{...} is used for physical units, \ce{...} for chemical formulas. $\endgroup$
    – andselisk
    Dec 8, 2017 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


Ok... It is hard to read you post since the details are scattered around.

Problem Statement

Given: 50 ml of a 0.250 molar solution of barium nitrate with a density of 1.035 g/ml and that barium phosphate has a $K_\mathrm{sp} = 4.03 \times 10^{-25}$.

Question: How much $\ce{Na3PO4}$ must be added to reduce the concentration of barium to less than 7.00 ppb.

Complications with problem

Initial density

The density of the initial solution, 1.035 g/ml, is useless.

Final density

We need a density for the final solution to convert 7.00 ppb $\ce{Ba^{2+}}$ to a concentration of grams per liter. There is no density for the final solution, so the assumption will be that the density is 1.000 g/ml which means that a liter of the final solution will weigh 1000. grams. Since each $\ce{Ba^{2+}}$ cation will be replaced by 2 $\ce{Na^+}$ cations, the final solution will be at least 0.50 molar in $\ce{NaNO3}$. Thus the assumed density of 1.000 g/ml will be too low.

A pragmatic point here about the experimental procedure.

You typically wouldn't want to add solid $\ce{Na3PO4}$ to a solution containing $\ce{Ba^{2+}}$ since $\ce{Ba3(PO4)2}$ would precipitate on the particles of $\ce{Na3PO4}$ sealing them from the solution and thus preventing complete dissolving of the $\ce{Na3PO4}$ particles. So experimentally you first need to dissolve the $\ce{Na3PO4}$ in a small amount of water and then add the solution of $\ce{Na3PO4}$ to the solution of $\ce{Ba(NO3)2})$. Thus the initial volume would really be over 50 ml.

Rounding errors

The calculations will be carried to 5 significant figures to try to avoid rounding errors due to intermediate results. The final result will be properly rounded to 3 significant figures


Moles of barium in the initial solution

In the initial solution $\ce{[Ba]} = 0.250\ \mathrm{m}$ so 50 ml contains

$\mathrm{m}\ \ce{Ba^{2+}} = 0.250\ \mathrm{m/l}\times 0.050\ \mathrm{l} = 0.0125\ \ \mathrm{m}$

Moles of barium in the final solution

In the final solution for Ba:

$\ce{Ba^{2+}} = 7.00\ \mathrm{ppb}$
$\quad\quad = (7.00\times 10^{-9})\times 1000\ \mathrm{g/l}=7.00\times 10^{-6}\ \mathrm{g/l}$
$\quad\quad = \dfrac{7.00\times 10^{-6}\ \mathrm{g/l}}{137.33\ \mathrm{ g/m}} = 5.0972\times 10^{-8}\ \mathrm{m/l} $

For 50 ml of solution this is:
$\mathrm{m}\ \ce{Ba^{2+}} = 5.0972\times 10^{-8}\ \mathrm{m/l}\times 0.050\ \mathrm{l} = 2.5486\times10^{-9}\ \ \mathrm{m}$

$2.5486\times10^{-9}\ \ \mathrm{m} \ll 0.0125\ \ \mathrm{m}$ so the residual amount of barium in solution can be ignored.

(1) *In determining the amount of barium phosphate that will precipitate, the amount of barium left in solution is so small that it doesn't matter if the solution has a density of 1.000 g/ml or 1.05 g/ml. So the density of the sodium nitrate solution doesn't really matter for that part of the problem.

(2) $2.5486\times10^{-9}\ \ \mathrm{m} \ll 0.0125\ \ \mathrm{m}$ This is a significant figures argument. In other words for intermediate calculations I'm using only 5 significant figures. $$\begin{align} 0&.012\,500\,000\,000\,0 \\ -0&.000\,000\,002\,548\,6\\ \hline 0&.012\,499\,998\,551\,4 \end{align}$$ Now when trimmed to 5 significant figures the intermediate result is 0.012500. But the 0.0125 is exact, so I don't need the two extra zeros at the end.

Residual phosphate in the final solution

For the residual phosphate, in excess of that needed to precipitate the stoichometric amount of barium is:
$K_\mathrm{sp} = \ce{[Ba^{2+}]^3[PO4^{3-}]^2}$ or $\ce{[PO4^{3-}]} = \sqrt{\dfrac{K_\mathrm{sp}} {[Ba^{2+}]^3}}$

$\ce{[PO4^{3-}]} = \sqrt{\dfrac{4.03\times10^{-25}}{(5.0972\times 10^{-8})^3}} = 5.5164\times10^{-2}\ \mathrm{m/l}$

For 50 ml this would be:

$\mathrm{g}\ \ce{PO4^{-3}}\ \mathrm{as }\ \ce{Na3PO4} = (5.5164\times10^{-2}\ \mathrm{m/l})\times 0.050\ \mathrm{l}\times 163.94\ \mathrm{g/m} = 0.45218\ \mathrm{g}$

This is too great of an amount of residual phosphate in solution to be ignored. Thus we need to add this to how many grams of trisodium phosphate are needed to precipitate 0.0125 moles of $\ce{Ba^{2+}}$ as $\ce{Ba3(PO4)2}$.

Stoichiometric amount of phosphate to precipitate all the barium

Each mole of $\ce{Ba3(PO4)2}$ requires 3 moles of $\ce{Ba^{2+}}$. So for 0.0125 moles of $\ce{Ba^{2+}}$ there would be

$\mathrm{moles}\ \ce{Ba3(PO4)2} = \dfrac{\mathrm{moles}\ \ce{Ba^2+}}{3}= \dfrac{0.0125}{3} = 4.1667\times10^{-3}$

But each mole of $\ce{Ba3(PO4)2}$ requires two moles of $\ce{PO4^{3-}}$

$\mathrm{moles}\ \ce{PO4^{3-}} = 2\times(\mathrm{moles}\ \ce{Ba3(PO4)2})= 2\times( 4.1667\times10^{-3}) = 8.3333\times10^{-3}$

$\ce{Na_3PO4} = \mathrm{MW}\ 163.94\ \mathrm{g/m}\\ \quad\quad\quad\quad= 163.94\times8.3333\times10^{-3} = 1.3662\ \mathrm{g}$

Total amount of trisodium phosphate needed

$\mathrm{Total}\ \ce{Na_3PO4} = 1.3662 + 0.4522 = 1.8184\ \mathrm{g}$

Now rounding the final result to 3 significant figures we get 1.82 grams.

Now the other pertinent fact is how much $\ce{Na3PO4}$ can be dissolved in 50 ml at 25 °C? Wikipedia shows 14.5 g/100 mL (25 °C), so 7.25 g/50 mL (25 °C). Thus it should be possible to dissolve the $\ce{Na3PO4}$.

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    $\begingroup$ !@#$%^&* Think that is 4 edits to get the calculations right. I really should do the problems on paper first. Doing the markup is so distracting to me that I lose track of the problem. :-( $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Dec 8, 2017 at 3:39
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    $\begingroup$ I see. Another happy $\mathrm{\LaTeX}$ user :D $\endgroup$
    – andselisk
    Dec 8, 2017 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much MaxW, you are the best. It helped me a lot! I got a few more questions maybe you can answer me: 1. I didnt understand why you assumed that the final solution would have no density? 2. I know that ppb is 1 g particle X for Y g of a total solution, and i know that density is the mass per volume ratio, but how did you multiplied those together? what is the relationship between those two? 3. When can i say that the amount is too small and i can ignore it. I mean, your relation was that 0.0125mol is the max limit point, why cant it be higher? are there any rules? @MaxW $\endgroup$
    – Mabadai
    Dec 8, 2017 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ (1.) I didn't assume the final solution has no density, I assumed that the density was 1.000 g/ml. The density of NaNO3 solutions is probably in a table somewhere and could be looked up. But it would make the calculations a mess. I'll add that as an explicit assumption. (2.) 1 ppb is 1 part in a billion by weight. Since 1 ml of solution weighs 1.000 gram, then $1\ \mathrm{ppb} = 1\times10^{-9}\times 1.000\ \mathrm{g} = 1\times10^{-6}\ \mathrm{g} $ (3) I'll add an explanation in the solution. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Dec 8, 2017 at 15:55

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