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Mathematical Sciences


Defining and balancing redox reaction requires both chemical knowledge and mathematical skills. The prevalent approach is to use the concept of oxidation number to determine the number of transferred electrons. However, the task of calculating oxidation numbers is often challenging. In this article, the H-atom method and O-atom method are developed for balancing redox equations. These two methods are based on the definition of redox reaction, which is the gain and loss of hydrogen or oxygen atoms. They complement current practices and provide an alternate path to balance redox equations. The advantage of these methods is that calculation of oxidation number is not required. Atoms are balanced instead. By following standard operating procedures, H-atom, O-atom, and H2O molecule act as artificial devices to balance both inorganic and organic equations in molecular forms. By using the H-atom and O-atom methods, the number of transferred electrons can be determined by the number of transferred H-atoms or O-atoms, which are demonstrated as electroncounting concepts for balancing redox reactions. In addition, the relationships among the number of transferred H-atom, the number of transferred O-atom, the number of transferred electrons, and the change of oxidation numbers are established.