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An Introduction to Buffers Notes.pdf

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Chemistry 1027A/B
Tom Haffie

Unit: Equilibrium in Aqueous Solution Module: Buffers [page 1 of 1] An Introduction to Buffers • The human body is a complex system of buffers. Without buffers the macroscopic characteristics of proteins would break down. Buffers are composed of a weak acid and its conjugate base. • • Calculations for buffer systems are acid-dissociation constant (K ) aroblems. The human body contains many complex systems involving proteins with various side chains. Among these are carboxylic acid groups and amino groups (fig. 1). In an equilibrium between acetic acid and ammonia, a proton can be transferred from the acetic acid to the amino group. At a blood pH of 7.5, the carboxylic acid groups are deprotonated. Also, the amino groups are protonated (fig. 2). These charged groups help hold proteins together and are responsible for much of the macroscopic structure of proteins. If the blood pH were to drop significantly below 7.5, the carboxylic acid groups would be protonated and the amino groups would be deprotonated. The entire structure of proteins in the blood would break down. Buffers are composed of a weak acid (HA) and a –
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