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Question 4.8: Balancing Simple Oxidation–Reduction Reactions by the Half-R...

Balancing Simple Oxidation–Reduction Reactions by the Half-Reaction Method

Consider a more difficult problem, the combination (oxidation–reduction) reaction of magnesium metal and nitrogen gas:

Mg(s)  +  N_2(g)  →  Mg_3N_2(s)

Apply the half-reaction method to balance this equation.


Start by identifying the species undergoing oxidation and reduction and assigning oxidation numbers. Then write the two balanced half reactions, keeping in mind that you add the electrons to the more positive side of the reaction. Next, multiply each of the half-reactions by a whole number that will cancel the electrons on each side of the equation. Finally, add the half-reactions together to yield the balanced equation.

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