What is the Charge on CO2? And Why?

The Charge of CO2 is 0.

But the question is how can you say that the charge on CO2 (Carbon dioxide) is 0?

Well you can say this by calculating its formal charge.

So let’s calculate the formal charge of CO2 (Carbon dioxide).

If you are a visual learner like me, then here is a short two minute video for you.

Calculating the formal charge of CO2 using lewis structure

In order to calculate the formal charge on CO2 (Carbon dioxide), you should know the Lewis dot structure of CO2 (Carbon dioxide).

Here is the lewis structure of CO2.

Now using the above lewis structure of CO2, you have to find the formal charge on each atom that is present in the CO2 molecule.

For calculating the formal charge, you need to remember this formula;

Formal charge = Valence electrons – Nonbonding electrons – (Bonding electrons)/2

You can see the bonding and nonbonding electrons of CO2 from the image given below.

So now let’s calculate the formal charge on each individual atom present in CO2.

Formal charge on Carbon atom:
Valence electrons = 4 (as it is in group 14 on periodic table) [1]
Nonbonding electrons = 0
Bonding electrons = 8

So according to the formula of formal charge, you will get;

Formal charge on Carbon = Valence electrons – Nonbonding electrons – (Bonding electrons)/2 = 4 – 0 – (8/2) = 0

So the formal charge on carbon atom is 0.

Formal charge on Oxygen atom:
Valence electrons = 6 (as it is in group 16 on periodic table) [2]
Nonbonding electrons = 4
Bonding electrons = 4

So according to the formula of formal charge, you will get;

Formal charge on Oxygen = Valence electrons – Nonbonding electrons – (Bonding electrons)/2 = 6 – 4 – (4/2) = 0

So the formal charge on oxygen atom is 0.

Now you can see that all the atoms of CO2 have 0 formal charge.

This indicates that the overall CO2 (Carbon dioxide) molecule also has 0 charge and hence it is a neutral molecule.

I hope you have understood the above calculations for the formal charge of CO2 (Carbon dioxide).

Check out some other related topics for your practice.

Author
Jay Rana

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. With a desire to make learning accessible for everyone, he founded Knords Learning, an online learning platform that provides students with easily understandable explanations.