Solutions, Osmosis, Electro - Chemistry

Category : UPSC

 Solutions, Osmosis, Electro - Chemistry


1.           Solutions


  • 1 part per million (ppm) of fluoride ions in water prevents tooth decay, while \[1.5\]ppm causes the tooth to become mottled and high concentrations of fluoride ions can be poisonous (for example, sodium fluoride is used in rat poison).
  • Intravenous injections are always dissolved in water containing salts at particular ionic concentrations that match with blood plasma concentrations and so on.
  • Solutions are homogeneous mixtures of two or more than two components. By homogenous mixture we mean that its composition and properties are uniform throughout the mixture. Generally, the component that is present in the largest quantity is known as solvent.
  • Such a solution in which no more solute can be dissolved at the same temperature and pressure is called a saturated solution. An unsaturated solution is one in which more solute can be dissolved at the same temperature.
  • Pressure does not have any significant effect on solubility of solids in liquids. It is so because solids and liquids are highly incompressible and practically remain unaffected by changes in pressure.
  • Many gases dissolve in water. Oxygen dissolves only to a small extent in water. It is this dissolved oxygen which sustains all aquatic life. On the other hand, hydrogen chloride gas (HCl) is highly soluble in water. Solubility of gases in liquids is greatly affected by pressure and temperature. The solubility of gases increase with increase of pressure.
  • Henry was the first to give a quantitative relation between pressure and solubility of a gas in a solvent which is known as Henry's law. The law states that at a constant temperature, the solubility of a gas in a liquid is directly proportional to the pressure of the gas.
  • Increase with increase of temperature indicating that the solubility of gases increases with decrease of temperature. It is due to this reason that aquatic species are more comfortable in cold waters rather than in warm waters.
  • Henry's law finds several applications in industry and explains some biological phenomena. Notable among these are:
  • To increase the solubility of \[C{{O}_{2}}\] in soft drinks and soda water, the bottle is sealed under high pressure.
  • Scuba divers must cope with high concentrations of dissolved gases while breathing air at high pressure underwater. Increased pressure increases the solubility of atmospheric gases in blood. When the divers come towards surface, the pressure gradually decreases. This releases the dissolved gases and leads to the formation of bubbles of nitrogen in the blood. This blocks capillaries and creates a medical condition known as bends, which are painful and dangerous to life. To avoid bends, as well as, the toxic effects of high concentrations of nitrogen in the blood, the tanks used by scuba divers are filled with air diluted with helium (\[11.7\]per cent helium, \[56.2\]per cent nitrogen and \[32.1\]per cent oxygen).
  • At high altitudes the partial pressure of oxygen is less than that at the ground level. This leads to low concentrations of oxygen in the blood and tissues of people living at high altitudes or climbers. Low blood oxygen causes climbers to become weak and unable to think clearly, symptoms of a condition known as anoxia.
  • Solubility of gases in liquids decreases with rise in temperature.


2.           Osmosis and Osmotic Pressure


  • There are many phenomena which we observe in nature or at home. For example, raw mangoes shrivel when pickled in brine (salt water); wilted flowers revive when placed in fresh water, blood cells collapse when suspended in saline water, etc. If we look into these processes we find one thing common in all, that is, all these substances are bound by membranes. These membranes can be of animal or vegetable origin and these occur naturally such as pig's bladder or parchment or can be synthetic such as cellophane.
  • These membranes appear to be continuous sheets or films, yet they contain a network of submicroscopic holes or pores. Small solvent molecules, like water, can pass through these holes but the passage of bigger molecules like solute is hindered. Membranes having this kind of properties are known as semipermeable membranes (SPM),
  • Assume that only solvent molecules can pass through these semipermeable membranes. This process of flow of the solvent is called osmosis.
  • The flow will continue till the equilibrium is attained. The flow of the solvent from its side to solution side across a semipermeable membrane can be stopped if some extra pressure is applied on the solution. This pressure that just stops the flow of solvent is called osmotic pressure of the solution. The flow of solvent from dilute solution to the concentrated solution across a semipermeable membrane is due to osmosis. The important point to be kept in mind is that solvent molecules always flow from lower concentration to higher concentration of solution. The osmotic pressure has been found to depend on the concentration of the solution.
  • The osmotic pressure of a solution is the excess pressure that must be applied to a solution to prevent osmosis.
  • Two solutions having same osmotic pressure at a given temperature are called isotonic solutions. For example, the osmotic pressure associated with the fluid inside the blood cell is equivalent to that of \[0.9\]per cent (mass/volume) sodium chloride solution, called normal saline solution and it is safe to inject intravenously. On the other hand, if we place the cells in a solution containing more than \[0.9\] per cent (mass/volume) sodium chloride, water will flow out of the cells and they would shrink. Such a solution is called hypertonic. If the salt concentration is less than \[0.9\] per cent (mass/volume), the solution is said to be hypotonic. In this case, water will flow into the cells if placed in this solution and they would swell.
  • A raw mango placed in concentrated salt solution loses water via osmosis and shrivel into pickle. Wilted flowers revive when placed in fresh water. A carr6t that has become limp because of water loss into the atmosphere can be placed into the water making it firm once again. Water will move into them through osmosis. When placed in water containing less than \[0.9\] per cent (mass/volume) salt, blood cells collapse due to loss of water by osmosis. People taking a lot of salt or salty food experience water retention in tissue cells and intercellular spaces because of osmosis. The resulting puffiness or swelling is called edema.
  • Water movement from soil into plant roots and subsequently into upper portion of the plant is partly due to osmosis. The preservation of meat by salting and of fruits by adding sugar protects against bacterial action. Through the process of osmosis, a bacterium on salted meat or candid fruit loses water, shrivels and dies.


3.           Reverse Osmosis and Water Purification


  • The direction of osmosis can be reversed if a pressure larger than the osmotic pressure is applied to the solution side. That is, now the pure solvent flows out of the solution through the semi permeable membrane. This phenomenon is called reverse osmosis and is of great practical utility. Reverse osmosis is used in desalination of sea water.
  • When pressure more than osmotic pressure is applied, pure water is squeezed out of the sea water through the membrane. A variety of polymer membranes are available for this purpose.
  • The pressure required for the reverse osmosis is quite high. A workable porous membrane is a film of cellulose acetate placed over a suitable support. Cellulose acetate is permeable to water but impermeable to impurities and ions present in sea water. These days many countries use desalination plants to meet their potable water requirements.


4.           Vapour Pressure


  • At high altitudes atmospheric pressure is low. Therefore liquids at high altitudes boil at lower temperatures in comparison to that at sea level. Since water boils at low temperature on hills, the pressure cooker is used for cooking food. In hospitals surgical instruments are sterilized in autoclaves in which boiling point of water is increased by increasing the pressure above the atmospheric pressure by using a weight covering the vent.



5.           Surface Tension


  • It is well known fact that liquids assume the shape of the container. Why is it then small drops of mercury form spherical bead instead of spreading on the surface. Why do particles of soil at the bottom of river remain separated but they stick together when taken out? Why does a liquid rise (or fall) in a thin capillary as soon as the capillary touches the surface of the liquid?
  • All these phenomena are caused due to the characteristic property of liquids, called surface tension. A molecule in the bulk of liquid experiences equal intermolecular forces from all sides. The molecule, therefore does not experience any net force. But for the molecule on the surface of liquid, net attractive force is towards the interior of the liquid due to the molecules below it. Since there are no molecules above it.
  • Liquids tend to minimize their surface area. The molecules on the surface experience a net downward force and have more energy than the molecules in the bulk, which do not experience any net force. Therefore, liquids tend to have minimum number of molecules at their surface. If surface of the liquid is increased by pulling a molecule from the bulk, attractive forces will have to be overcome. This will require expenditure of energy.
  • The energy required to increase the surface area of the liquid by one unit is defined as surface energy. It dimensions are J \[{{m}^{-2}}\] (Joule/meter2). Surface tension is defined as the force acting per unit lenght perpendicular to the .line drawn on the surface of liquid.
  • The lowest energy state of the liquid will be when surface area is minimum. Spherical shape satisfies this condition, that is why mercury drops are spherical in shape. This is the reason that sharp glass edges are heated for making them smooth. On heating, the glass melts and the surface of the liquid tends to take the rounded shape at the edges, which makes the edges smooth. This is called fire polishing of glass.
  • Liquid tends to rise (or fall) in the capillary because of surface tension. Liquids wet the things because they spread across their surfaces as thin film. Moist soil grains are pulled together because surface area of thin film of water is reduced. It is surface tension which gives stretching property to the surface of a liquid.
  • On flat surface, droplets are slightly flattened by the effect of gravity; but in the gravity „ free environments drops are perfectly spherical.
  • The magnitude of surface tension of a liquid depends on the attractive forces between the molecules. When the attractive forces are large, the surface tension is large. Increase in temperature increases the kinetic energy of the molecules and effectiveness of intermolecular attraction decreases, so surface tension decreases as the temperature is raised.


6.           Viscosity


  • It is one of the characteristic properties of liquids. Viscosity is a measure of resistance to flow which arises due to the internal friction between layers of fluid as they slip past one another while liquid flows. Strong intermolecular forces between molecules hold them together and resist movement of layers past one another.
  • When a liquid flows over a fixed surface, the layer of molecules in the immediate contact of surface is stationary. The velocity of upper layers increases as the distance of layers from the fixed layer increases. This type of flow in which there is a regular gradation of velocity in passing from one layer to the next is called, laminar flow. If we choose any layer in the flowing liquid the layer above it accelerates its flow and the layer below this retards its flow.
  • A force is required to maintain ‘the flow of layers. This force is proportional to the area of contact of layers and velocity gradient.
  • Greater the viscosity, the more slowly the liquid flows. Hydrogen bonding and van der Waals forces are strong enough to cause high viscosity. Glass is an extremely viscous liquid. It is so viscous that many of its properties resemble solids. However, property of flow of glass can be experienced by measuring the thickness of windowpanes of old buildings. These become thicker at the bottom than at the top.
  • Viscosity of liquids decreases as the temperature rises because at high temperature molecules have high kinetic energy and can overcome the intermolecular forces to slip past one another between the layers.


7.           Electrochemistry


  • On Daniell cell the reduction half reaction occurs on the copper electrode while the oxidation half reaction occurs on the zinc electrode.
  • There are mainly two types of batteries. Primary Batteries and Secondary Batteries.
  • In the primary batteries, the reaction occurs only once and after use over a period of time battery becomes dead and cannot be reused again. The most familiar example of this type is the dry cell (known as Leclanche cell after its discoverer) which is used commonly in our transistors and clocks.
  • The cell consists of a zinc container that also acts as anode and the cathode is a carbon (graphite) rod surrounded by powdered manganese dioxide and carbon. The space between the electrodes is filled by a moist paste of ammonium chloride (\[N{{H}_{4}}CI\]) and zinc chloride \[(ZnC{{I}_{2}})\]. The electrode reactions are complex. The cell potential is approximately \[1.35\]V and remains constant during its life as the overall reaction does not involve any ion in solution whose concentration can change during its life time.
  • A secondary cell after use can be recharged by passing current through it in the opposite direction so that it can be used again. A good secondary cell can undergo a large number of discharging and charging cycles. The most important secondary cell is the lead storage battery commonly used in automobiles and inverters. It consists of a lead anode and a grid of lead packed with lead dioxide (\[Pb{{O}_{2}}\]) as cathode. A 38 per cent solution of sulphuric acid is used as an electrolyte.
  • Another important secondary cell is the nickelcadmium cell which has longer life than the lead storage cell but more expensive to manufacture.
  • Production of electricity by thermal plants is not a very efficient method and is a major source of pollution. In such plants, the chemical energy (heat of combustion) of fossil fuels (coal, gas or oil) is first used for converting water into high pressure steam. This is then used to run a turbine to produce electricity. We know that a galvanic cell directly converts chemical energy into electricity and is highly efficient. It is now possible to make such cells in which reactants are fed continuously to the electrodes and products are removed continuously from the electrolyte compartment. Galvanic cells that are designed to convert the energy of combustion of fuels like hydrogen, methane, methanol, etc. directly into electrical energy are called fuel cells.
  • One of the most successful fuel cells uses the reaction of hydrogen with oxygen to form water. The cell was used for providing electrical power in the Apollo space programme. The water vapours produced during the reaction were condensed and added to the drinking water supply for the astronauts. In the cell, hydrogen and oxygen are bubbled through porous carbon electrodes into concentrated aqueous sodium hydroxide solution. Catalysts like finely divided platinum or palladium metal are incorporated into the electrodes for increasing the rate of electrode reactions.
  • The cell runs continuously as long as the reactants are supplied. Fuel cells produce electricity with an efficiency of about 70 per cent compared to thermal plants whose efficiency is about 40 per cent. There has been tremendous progress in the development of new electrode materials, better catalysts and electrolytes for increasing the efficiency of fuel cells. These have been used in automobiles on an experimental basis. Fuel cells are pollution free and in view of their future importance, a variety of fuel cells have been fabricated and tried.


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