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Gas Collection by Water Displacement

Procedure used to collect gas pressure for water vapor present in the sample

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Henry's Law Solubility of Gases

Credit: Image copyright Tetiana Yurchenko, 2013
Source: http://www.shutterstock.com
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

What is the pressure?

You need to do a lab experiment where hydrogen gas is generated. In order to calculate the yield of gas, you have to know the pressure inside the tube where the gas is collected. But how can you get a barometer in there? Very simple: you don’t. All you need is the atmospheric pressure in the room. As the gas pushed out the water, it is pushing against the atmosphere, so the pressure inside is equal to the pressure outside

Solubility of Gases vs. Temperature:

The variation of solubility for a gas with temperature can be determined by examining the graphic on the left.

As the temperature increases, the solubility of a gas decrease as shown by the downward trend in the graph .

More gas is present in a solution with a lower temperature compared to a solution with a higher temperature.

The reason for this gas solubility relationship with temperature is very similar to the reason that vapor pressure increases with temperature. Increased temperature causes an increase in kinetic energy. The higher kinetic energy causes more motion in molecules which break intermolecular bonds and escape from solution.

This gas solubility relationship can be remembered if you think about what happens to a "soda pop" as it stands around for awhile at room temperature. The taste is very "flat" since more of the "tangy" carbon dioxide bubbles have escaped. Boiled water also tastes "flat" because all of the oxygen gas has been removed by heating.


Henry's Law is in the administration of anesthetic gases. If the partial pressure of the anesthetic gas is increased, the anesthetic solubility increases in the blood.

Gas Pressure and Solubility:

Liquids and solids exhibit practically no change of solubility with changes in pressure. Gases as might be expected, increase in solubility with an increase in pressure. Henry's Law states that: The solubility of a gas in a liquid is directly proportional to the pressure of that gas above the surface of the solution.

If the pressure is increased, the gas molecules are "forced" into the solution since this will best relieve the pressure that has been applied. The number of gas molecules is decreased. The number of gas molecules dissolved in solution has increased as shown in the graphic on the left.

Carbonated beverages provide the best example of this phenomena. All carbonated beverages are bottled under pressure to increase the carbon dioxide dissolved in solution. When the bottle is opened, the pressure above the solution decreases. As a result, the solution effervesces and some of the carbon dioxide bubbles off.


Deep sea divers may experience a condition called the "bends" if they do not readjust slowly to the lower pressure at the surface. As a result of breathing compressed air and being subjected to high pressures caused by water depth, the amount of nitrogen dissolved in blood and other tissues increases. If the diver returns to the surface too rapidly, the nitrogen forms bubbles in the blood as it becomes less soluble due to a decrease in pressure. The nitrogen bubbles can cause great pain and possibly death.

To alleviate this problem somewhat, artificial breathing mixtures of oxygen and helium are used. Helium is only one-fifth as soluble in blood as nitrogen. As a result, there is less dissolved gas to form bubbles.

Real Life Applications

If a diver had the "bends", describe how this can be treated.  
A Coke at room temperature will have more oor less carbon dioxide in the gas space above the liquid than an ice cold bottle.  
 Hyperbaric therapy, which involves exposure to oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressure may be used to treat hypoxia (low oxygen supply in the tissues). Explain how the treatment works.  

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Image copyright Tetiana Yurchenko, 2013; Source: http://www.shutterstock.com; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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