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Science

Calcium carbonate

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Limestone is mainly calcium carbonate, CaCO3, which when heated breaks down to form calcium oxide and carbon dioxide. Calcium oxide reacts with water to produce calcium hydroxide. Limestone and its products have many uses, including being used to make cement, mortar and concrete.

Thermal decomposition

Calcium carbonate breaks down when heated strongly. This reaction is called thermal decomposition. Here are the equations for the thermal decomposition of calcium carbonate:

calcium carbonateright facing arrow with heatcalcium oxide + carbon dioxide

CaCO3right facing arrow with heatCaO + CO2

Other metal carbonates decompose in the same way, including:

  • sodium carbonate
  • magnesium carbonate
  • copper carbonate

For example, here are the equations for the thermal decomposition of copper carbonate:

copper carbonate right facing arrow with heatcopper oxide + carbon dioxide

CuCO3right facing arrow with heatCuO + CO2

Metals high up in the reactivity series (such as sodium, calcium and magnesium) have carbonates that need a lot of energy to decomposedecompose: If a substance decomposes, it breaks down into simpler compounds or elements. them. Indeed, not all the carbonates of group 1 metals decompose at the temperatures reached by a Bunsen burner.

Metals low down in the reactivity series, such as copper, have carbonates that are easily decomposed. This is why copper carbonate is often used at school to show thermal decomposition. It is easily decomposed and its colour change, from green copper carbonate to black copper oxide, is easy to see.

Copper carbonate + heat -> Copper oxide + Carbon dioxide

The thermal decomposition of copper(II) carbonate is easily demonstrated

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