The Pressure of a Mixture of Gases: Dalton’s Law

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This figure includes images of four gas-filled cylinders or tanks. Each has a valve at the top. The interior of the first cylinder is shaded blue. This region contains 5 small blue circles that are evenly distributed. The label “300 k P a” is on the cylinder. The second cylinder is shaded lavender. This region contains 8 small purple circles that are evenly distributed. The label “600 k P a” is on the cylinder. To the right of these cylinders is a third cylinder. Its interior is shaded pale yellow. This region contains 12 small yellow circles that are evenly distributed. The label “450 k P a” is on this region of the cylinder. An arrow labeled “Total pressure combined” appears to the right of these three cylinders. This arrow points to a fourth cylinder. The interior of this cylinder is shaded a pale green. It contains evenly distributed small circles in the following quantities and colors; 5 blue, 8 purple, and 12 yellow. This cylinder is labeled “1350 k P a.”
Figure 1 If equal-volume cylinders containing gas A at a pressure of 300 kPa, gas B at a pressure of 600 kPa, and gas C at a pressure of 450 kPa are all combined in the same-size cylinder, the total pressure of the mixture is 1350 kPa. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

The Pressure of a Mixture of Gases: Dalton’s Law (OpenStax Chemistry 2e)

Unless they chemically react with each other, the individual gases in a mixture of gases do not affect each other’s pressure. Each individual gas in a mixture exerts the same pressure that it would exert if it were present alone in the container (Figure 1). The pressure exerted by each individual gas in a mixture is called its partial pressure. This observation is summarized by Dalton’s law of partial pressures: The total pressure of a mixture of ideal gases is equal to the sum of the partial pressures of the component gases:

In the equation PTotal is the total pressure of a mixture of gases, PA is the partial pressure of gas A; PB is the partial pressure of gas B; PC is the partial pressure of gas C; and so on.

The partial pressure of gas A is related to the total pressure of the gas mixture via its mole fraction (X), a unit of concentration defined as the number of moles of a component of a solution divided by the total number of moles of all components:

where PAXA, and nA are the partial pressure, mole fraction, and number of moles of gas A, respectively, and nTotal is the number of moles of all components in the mixture.

Source:

Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/books/chemistry-2e

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