# Chemical equation simplification

4CO + 2CO2 -> 4CO2 this is Balanced

when I simplify, the simplification doesn't work

2CO + O2 -> 2CO2

3 moles of O2 does not equal 4 Moles of O2

where's my error????

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Originally posted by Integral0
4CO + 2CO2 -> 4CO2 this is Balanced

when I simplify, the simplification doesn't work

2CO + O2 -> 2CO2

3 moles of O2 does not equal 4 Moles of O2

where's my error????
I assume your initial reaction was supposed to be:
4CO + 2O2 -> 4CO2 otherwise it didn't start out balanced

In the simplified form, the error is you're mixing up O and O2. Just count O and you get this:
Left side
2 CO = 2C + 2O
1 O2 = 0C + 2O
Total= 2C + 4O

Right side
2 CO2 = 2C + 4O which is the same as the total for the left side.

RE

actually this is the reaction I meant

CO + O2 -> CO2 (Unbalanced)

sorry it was a mistake originally

Last edited:
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member

Originally posted by Integral0
actually this is the reaction I meant

CO + O2 -> CO2 (Unbalanced)

sorry it was a mistake originally
Okay, then look carefully at the original equation.

4CO + 2O2 -> 4CO2

To simplify the equation, you divide by two. This gives you:
2CO + O2 -> 2CO2
This is what you had in your first post as the solution, and it was a correctly balanced equation. You can't simplify any further since you're already down to just one O2 on the left side of the equation. The unbalanced equation you're having trouble with doesn't take into account dividing 1 O2 by 2, which would give you 1/2 O2. This wouldn't be wrong, but it's not any simpler when you start adding fractions, so you stop simplifying before you get to fractions.