News - Our Adventure at Keele University

keele1Before we went to Keele, we made our own samples of Aspirin. This was done through reacting Salicylic Acid, P hosphoric Acid and Acetic Anhydride. We then mixed the impure product with warm ethanol to remove impurities and recrystallised our aspirin.

At Keele, we tested our aspirin sample using various methods and pieces of technology. After a briefing, we prepared the sample for Infrared Spectroscopy; this involved firing beams of infra-red energy at the sample and creating a spectra. Certain peaks in the spectra showed the presence of certain bonds as they vibrate at certain wave numbers. We were impressed with the efficiency of the machine as it took less than 2.5 seconds to examine and test the sample. We found that our Aspirin was a 75% match to the sample on the software’s library; an excess of water in the sample was our problem.

keele2Following this, we used NMR spectroscopy to further examine the purity of our sample. We were very surprised that the smaller of the two machines cost around £300,000 and that we were given access to use it. After loading our solution into the machine, it took around four minutes to produce a spectrum showing the amount of hydrogen groups in our sample.

The final technique we used was chromatography, this allowed us to separate the compounds of different solutions and for us to see that our sample contained only aspirin and that it did not contain any of the other samples.

Overall, we found we had extended our knowledge of practical Chemistry throughout the day. This will be beneficial for our year 13 course or any other Chemistry related work we might do.

Written by: Matthew Whitehouse and Benjamin Gleave

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