Pharmaceutisch Weekblad

, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 243–247 | Cite as

Optimization of a novel two-phase potentiometric titration method of barbiturates with mercury(II)

Part II: Experimental evaluation
  • P. M. J. Coenegracht
  • H. J. Metting
  • D. A. Doornbos
Original Articles


A two-phase potentiometric titration procedure of barbiturates with mercury(II) was developed. The composition of the formed mercury-barbiturate complexes was elucidated by infrared spectrometry.

In the new titration procedure the barbituric acid derivative is dissolved in an aqueous borate buffer. An organic phase consisting of chloroform and benzyl alcohol is added, and the vigorously stirred contents of the titration vessel are titrated by a mercury(II) nitrate solution. In the potentiometric determination of the end-point a rotating mercury electrode is used as an indicator electrode that also serves as an efficient stirrer.

The two-phase procedure was compared with a one-phase mercurimetric potentiometric titration in borate buffer and with the potentiometric titration by sodium hydroxide in an ethanol-water solution. The proposed two-phase procedure is superior to both methods because lower concentrations of barbiturates (10−3-10−4M) can be determined successfully. The one-phase procedure suffers from systematic errors, while the titration with sodium hydroxide is less precise at concentration levels of the barbiturates prevailing in content uniformity studies. By the two-phase procedure the direct titration of phenobarbital and mephobarbital in a dry mix of tablet excipients was possible with a relative standard deviation smaller than 1.5 percent.


Barbiturate Benzyl Alcohol Sodium Hydroxide Potentiometric Titration Titration Procedure 
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Copyright information

© Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. M. J. Coenegracht
    • 1
  • H. J. Metting
    • 1
  • D. A. Doornbos
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Group OptimizationLaboratory of Pharmaceutical and Analytical ChemistryAW GroningenThe Netherlands

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