Find the molecular formula of a compound that has the molecular mass of 232.4111 grams/mole and an empirical formula of OCNCl.

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By definition, the empirical formula of a chemical compound is the simplest whole number ratio of the different elements in relation to each other.  The molecular formula is the actual number of each element in one molecule of a substance.  Since we know that the empirical formula is OCNCl, then we know that there will be the same number of each element in the actual molecular formula.  So we should calculate the molecular mass of OCNCl and then see how many times that number goes into the molecular mass 232.411.  The atomic masses of the different elements are obtained from the periodic table and are as follows:

O:  16.0 g/mol

C:  12.01 g/mol

N:  14.01 g/mol

Cl:  35.45 g/mol

If we add up the molecular masses of OCNCl that equals 77.47 g/mol.  If we divide 232.411 by 77.47, we get 3.00.  So this means that the actual molecular formula is three times the empirical formula.  This gives the molecular formula as O3C3N3Cl3.

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