Extracting copper from rock in the laboratory

Dr Peter Wothers performs a series of chemistry experiments in his laboratory at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry. The theme is one of the ancient alchemical elements, ‘Earth’. He invites three Key Stage 3 students to his laboratory to help him. Their aim is to extract copper from a piece of malachite.

They begin by using a simple circuit to explore the conductive properties of metals. They then extract carbon dioxide from the malachite by heating. This creates copper oxide. A limewater solution is used to test for the presence of the carbon dioxide. Next they pass hydrogen over the copper oxide to remove the remaining oxygen. A conductivity test is then carried out to prove the presence of copper.

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7 minutes

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