Conservation of electrons

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Conservation of Electrons In a redox reaction, the reaction unit is an electron transferred from a reducing agent to an oxidizing agent. The number of reaction units for a reducing agent is equal to the number of electrons released during its oxidation. For an oxidizing agent, the number of reaction units is given by the number of electrons needed to cause its reduction. In the reaction between Fe3+ and oxalic acid (reaction 2.2), for example, Fe3+ undergoes a 1-electron reduction. Each carbon atom in oxalic acid is initially present in a +3 oxidation state, whereas the carbon atom in CO2 is in a +4 oxidation state. Thus, we can write 1 ´moles Fe3+ = 2 ´ moles of H2C2O4 Note that the moles of oxalic acid are multiplied by 2 since there are two carbon atoms, each of which undergoes a 1-electron oxidation.

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