Tin Oxide Chemistry from Macquer (1758) to Mendeleeff (1891) as Revealed in the Textbooks and Other Literature of the Era.

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de Berg, K. C. (2008). Tin oxide chemistry from Macquer (1758) to Mendeleeff (1891) as revealed in the textbooks and other literature of the era. Science & Education, 17 (2-3), 265-287. doi:10.1007/s11191-006-9067-1

ISSN: 0926 7220


Eight chemistry textbooks written from 1758 to 1891 have been analyzed for the way they present the chemistry of the oxides of tin. This analysis gives insight into the foundation of a number of chemical ideas such as nomenclature and composition used in modern chemistry. Four major preparation techniques for the production of tin oxides emerge from the textbook analysis: the heating of tin in air; the addition of nitric acid to tin; the alkaline hydrolysis of tin (II) and tin (IV) salts; and the acid hydrolysis of alkaline stannate salts. Early textbooks of the period under discussion give lengthy descriptions and explanations for some of these reaction schemes while later textbooks of the period tend to give concise description without explanations. The models used in the explanations are analyzed in some detail and implications drawn for chemistry education. Particular attention is given to the reaction between tin and concentrated nitric acid and a comparison made with the reaction between copper and concentrated nitric acid. Some 20th century concepts are superimposed on the concepts of Lavoisier and Marcet to show how a chemical reaction might be modelled.


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