Chemistry » Gases » Effusion and Diffusion of Gases

Summarizing Effusion and Diffusion of Gases

Key Concepts and Summary

Gaseous atoms and molecules move freely and randomly through space. Diffusion is the process whereby gaseous atoms and molecules are transferred from regions of relatively high concentration to regions of relatively low concentration. Effusion is a similar process in which gaseous species pass from a container to a vacuum through very small orifices. The rates of effusion of gases are inversely proportional to the square roots of their densities or to the square roots of their atoms/molecules’ masses (Graham’s law).

Key Equations

  • \(\text{rate of diffusion}=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{amount of gas passing through an area}}{\text{unit of time}}\)
  • \(\frac{\text{rate of effusion of gas A}}{\text{rate of effusion of gas B}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\sqrt{{m}_{B}}}{\sqrt{{m}_{A}}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\sqrt{{\text{ℳ}}_{B}}}{\sqrt{{\text{ℳ}}_{A}}}\)

Glossary

diffusion

movement of an atom or molecule from a region of relatively high concentration to one of relatively low concentration (discussed in this tutorial with regard to gaseous species, but applicable to species in any phase)

effusion

transfer of gaseous atoms or molecules from a container to a vacuum through very small openings

Graham’s law of effusion

rates of diffusion and effusion of gases are inversely proportional to the square roots of their molecular masses

mean free path

average distance a molecule travels between collisions

rate of diffusion

amount of gas diffusing through a given area over a given time

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