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Homework Help: Why isnt carbon dioxide a solvent?

  1. Jul 14, 2013 #1
    So, CO2 is said to be non polar because of its molecular geometry.
    However the carbon atom has two positive charges and the oxygens, one partial charge each.
    Therefore, why doesn't CO2 dissolve ionic molecules like NaCl? We've been taught that a polar molecule is one that can separate ionic compounds. Any close Na+ ion would be attracted to the carbon atoms, no?
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2013 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Sure - get close enough to any particular atom and you'll see it's charge; but how close would you have to get?

    You pretty much answer your question in your preamble - it's because of the geometry of the molecule.

    In your description, the C is 2+ ... so wouldn't the Na+ get repelled?
    The attraction/repulsion has to be strong enough to tear the NaCl apart.

    But note: supercritical CO2 is used as a solvent.
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