Position of Carbon in The Series of Reactivity of Metals

  1. The position of carbon in the series of reactivity of metals can be determined based on:
    1. the ability of metals to take away oxygen from carbon oxide, that is carbon dioxide.
    2. the ability of carbon to take away oxygen from metal oxides

Experiment 1

  1. If the metal can take away oxygen from carbon dioxide, then the metal is more reactive than carbon.
    Metal + carbon dioxide → metal oxide + carbon
  2. On the other hand, if the metal cannot take away oxygen from carbon dioxide, then the metal is less reactive than carbon.

Example

2Mg (s) + CO2(g) → 2MgO (s)  + C (s)

Conclusion: Magnesium is more reactive than carbon.

Experiment 2


  1. If carbon can take away oxygen from metal oxide, then the carbon is more reactive than the metal.
    Carbon + metal oxide  metal + carbon dioxide
  2. On the other hand, if carbon cannot take away oxygen from metal oxide, then the carbon is less reactive than the metal.

Example

C + 2CuO → 2Cu + CO2

Conclusion: Copper is less reactive than carbon.

The chart below show the position of carbon in a reactivity series.


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