HCO3- Lewis Structure

HCO3- Lewis Structure

HCO3 (bicarbonate) has one hydrogen atom, one carbon atom, and three oxygen atoms. In the lewis structure of HCO3, there is one double bond and two single bonds around the carbon atom, with three oxygen atoms attached to it. The oxygen atom with a double bond has two lone pairs, the right oxygen atom (with which the hydrogen atom is attached) also has two lone pairs, and the left oxygen atom with a single bond has three lone pairs.

Also, there is a negative (-1) charge on the left oxygen atom.


Here’s how you can draw the HCO3 lewis structure step by step.

Step #1: draw sketch
Step #2: mark lone pairs
Step #3: mark charges
Step #4: minimize charges
Step #5: minimize charges again (if there are)

Let’s break down each step in detail.

#1 Draw Sketch

  • First, determine the total number of valence electrons

In the periodic table, hydrogen lies in group 1, carbon lies in group 14, and oxygen lies in group 16.

Hence, hydrogen has one valence electron, carbon has four valence electrons, and oxygen has six valence electrons.

Since HCO3 has one hydrogen atom, one carbon atom, and three oxygen atoms, so…

Valence electrons of one hydrogen atom = 1 × 1 = 1
Valence electrons of one carbon atom = 4 × 1 = 4
Valence electrons of three oxygen atoms = 6 × 3 = 18

Now the HCO3 has a negative (-1) charge, so we have to add one more electron.

So the total valence electrons = 1 + 4 + 18 + 1 = 24

  • Second, find the total electron pairs

We have a total of 24 valence electrons. And when we divide this value by two, we get the value of total electron pairs.

Total electron pairs = total valence electrons ÷ 2

So the total electron pairs = 24 ÷ 2 = 12

  • Third, determine the central atom

Here hydrogen can not be the central atom. Because the central atom is bonded with at least two other atoms, and hydrogen has only one electron in its last shell, so it can not make more than one bond.

Now we have to choose the central atom from carbon and oxygen. Place the least electronegative atom at the center.

Since carbon is less electronegative than oxygen, assume that the central atom is carbon.

Therefore, place carbon in the center and hydrogen and oxygen on either side.

  • And finally, draw the rough sketch
HCO3- Lewis Structure (Step 1)

#2 Mark Lone Pairs

Here, we have a total of 12 electron pairs. And four bonds are already marked. So we have to only mark the remaining eight electron pairs as lone pairs on the sketch.

Also remember that hydrogen is a period 1 element, so it can not keep more than 2 electrons in its last shell. And both (carbon and oxygen) are the period 2 elements, so they can not keep more than 8 electrons in their last shell.

Always start to mark the lone pairs from outside atoms. Here, the outside atoms are hydrogen and oxygens. But no need to mark on hydrogen, because hydrogen already has two electrons.

So for top oxygen and left oxygen, there are three lone pairs, for right oxygen, there are two lone pairs, and for carbon, there is zero lone pair because all eight electron pairs are over.

Mark the lone pairs on the sketch as follows:

HCO3- Lewis Structure (Step 2)

#3 Mark Charges

Use the following formula to calculate the formal charges on atoms:

Formal charge = valence electrons – nonbonding electrons – ½ bonding electrons

For hydrogen atom, formal charge = 1 – 0 – ½ (2) = 0

For carbon atom, formal charge = 4 – 0 – ½ (6) = +1

For top oxygen and left oxygen atom, formal charge = 6 – 6 – ½ (2) = -1

For right oxygen atom, formal charge = 6 – 4 – ½ (4) = 0

Here, both carbon and oxygen atoms have charges, so mark them on the sketch as follows:

HCO3- Lewis Structure (Step 3)

The above structure is not a stable lewis structure because both carbon and oxygen atoms have charges. Therefore, reduce the charges (as below) by converting lone pairs to bonds.

#4 Minimize Charges

Convert a lone pair of the top oxygen atom to make a new C — O bond with the carbon atom as follows:

HCO3- Lewis Structure (Step 4)

In the above structure, you can see that the central atom (carbon) forms an octet. Hence, the octet rule is satisfied.

Now there is still a negative (-1) charge on the left oxygen atom.

This is okay, because the structure with a negative charge on the most electronegative atom is the best lewis structure. And in this case, the most electronegative element is oxygen.

Also, the above structure is more stable than the previous structures. Therefore, this structure is the most stable lewis structure of HCO3.

And since the HCO3 has a negative (-1) charge, mention that charge on the lewis structure by drawing brackets as follows:

HCO3- Lewis Structure (Final)

Next: HNO2 Lewis Structure

Leave a Comment