Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What does the bi stand for in bicarbonate, what is the purpose?

  1. Aug 3, 2012 #1


    User Avatar

    There's only one carbon atom...
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2012 #2


    User Avatar

    It just refers to the fact that it's a carbonate ion with an H+, essentially a proton, attached to it. I'm not sure where 'bi' comes from, but that's the reason why bicarbonate is also sometimes called hydrogen carbonate.
  4. Aug 3, 2012 #3


    User Avatar

  5. Aug 7, 2012 #4
    I think it's a compound consisting of 2 carbon atoms. Yep, they are the same Carbon - 12 atoms.

    I usually use this which helps me a lot :

    Mono - stands for one ( sometimes not mentioned like in maths ;) )
    bi - stands for two
    di - stands for two
    tri - stands for three

    Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bi-

    Make sure you read it :)
  6. Aug 7, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Welcome to PF!

    Hi Sqw! Welcome to PF! :smile:

    I think it predates the modern understanding of molecules, and was because a bicarbonate contains twice as much carbon (ie it produced twice as much CO2) as the carbonate of the same metal.

    eg NaHCO3 contains twice as much C per Na as does Na2CO3

    since the latter is obviously a carbonate, the former must be a bicarbonate! :biggrin:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook