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Muntz Metal

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    Finding the percentage of copper in brass alloy.


    This is an investigation to find out how much copper is in a brass alloy. The brass alloy we are experimenting on is called Muntz Metal. Muntz metal is 60% copper, 40% zinc and a hint of copper. Muntz metal was developed as an alternative to expensive, heavy copper. It is comprised of about 60% copper and about 40% zinc, with a small amount of iron. The finished product actually is considered a form of brass, but it has maintained its name of Muntz metal.


    The brass is dissolved in sulphuric acid to create the blue solution of copper. We put the blue solution of copper in the colorimeter and measured the absorbance of the solution 3 times then we found the average of the 3 different results we had gotten. We then diluted the blue solution of copper with water and put it into the colorimeter and measured the absorbance 3 times again and got the average again. A colorimeter is a light-sensitive instrument that measures how much colour is absorbed by an object or substance.

    It determines colour based on the red, blue, and green components of light absorbed by the object or sample, much as the human eye does. When light passes through a medium, part of the light is absorbed, and as a result, there is a decrease in how much of the light reflected by the medium. A colorimeter measures that change so users can analyse the concentration of a particular substance in that medium. The device works on the basis of Beer-Lambert’s law, which states that the absorption of light transmitted through a medium is directly proportional to the concentration of the medium.


    If it is Muntz metal it should be 60% copper and 40% zinc. There for if we measure the percentage of copper anything that isn’t 60% we know that it isn’t Muntz metal. However if it is 60% copper we still cannot be certain that it is Muntz metal.


    We were provided with a sample of brass that has been filled with a sample that is believed to be the stolen Muntz metal. Afterwards using a flame cupboard we placed 30cm3 of distilled water into a 250cm3 conical flask and slowly added 15cm3 of concentrated nitric acid to it.

    Then we stirred the mixture using a glass rod. Subsequently we weighed out accurately known to 2dp about 1. 5g of the brass filings. We slowly to the diluted nitric acid in the fume cupboard. Then you had to leave the mixture for some minutes until all the brass has ‘dissolved’. During this procedure poisonous nitrogen dioxide gas is given off and a blue solution containing copper (Cu2+) and zinc (Zn2+) ions is formed. We have two separate equations for what is happening to the zinc and copper in the brass as we don’t have a formula for the brass alloy. These equations are:

    Cu(s) + 2HNO3(i) Cu(NO3)2(i)+2H+(aq) Cu(s) Cu2+(aq) (Ionic equation) Zn(s) + 2HNO3(i) Zn(NO3)2(i)+2H+(aq) Zn(s) Zn2+(aq) (Ionic equation) we were then provided with around 100cm3 of a copper sulphate solution. This solution contain1. 6g of copper (as Cu2+ ions) in 250cm3 of solution.

    We then diluted this copper sulphate solution with distilled water to make the solutions labelled A to F in the table below. This dilution is to be done accurately using appropriate apparatus, with mixing.

    We had then switched on the colorimeter and we had to calibrate it using a cuvette filled with distilled water and used the absorbance setting chosen the 650nm filter.

    We then filled six cuvettes with solutions a to f and found the absorbance values for each of them in turn and recorded the results in a suitable way. Afterwards we has filled another cuvette with the brass solution and measured the absorbance of this solution also.

    If there is glass in the cut do not apply pressure as it could do more damage. if it is bleeding badly raise it above your head to reduce bleeding. If it’s a small cut go to the first aid station and seek medical attention| Analysis The brass solution that we tested was only 43% copper. We found this out because the concentration of the unknown was 0. 688 and to find out the percentage was by this calculation below: Mass of brass used

    Mass of brass used %Cu (copper) = Concentration x100 1. 60g 1. 60g %Cu (copper) = 0. 688 x100 =43%


    Muntz metal is meant to be 60% copper but this was only 43% copper so this is not Muntz metal. If it was 57% we could of said that it may well be Muntz metal as it would of been close to the 60% but 43% is nowhere near what it is meant to be. Evaluation Reliability The reliability of the experiment we did was pretty reliable as all the points were close to the line of best fit when the graph was drawn and the results were plotted.

    The results of the test were all pretty much close together as we had tested the same solution 3 times to make it more reliable.


    The errors that could of been made are mainly the measurement’s as shown below

    1. Volumetric flask 250cm3 +/- 0. 15cm3
    2.  Measuring cylinder 1cm3 +/- 0. 2cm3
    3.  Colorimeter +/- 0. 001 4. Scales +/-0. 01g

    These are pretty much reliable however the most unreliable one is the measuring cylinder as it is +/- 0. 2cm3 Procedural errors Some procedural errors are that Muntz metal is 60% copper and 40% zinc.

    By only measuring the copper content we cannot say for definite that it is Muntz metal as the brass alloy could be 60% copper 20% tin and 20% zinc. If we calculate the zinc percentage also we would have a better idea if it was Muntz metal of not. Another procedural error could be is it only copper that makes blue solution? We possibly don’t know as they could be more elements in the brass sample that we used for the experiment that could make a blue solution so it isn’t that reliable as we theoretically measured the absorbance of the blue solution and made an assumption from the results we had gotten from the colorimeter.

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    Muntz Metal. (2016, Nov 26). Retrieved from

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