Vapor Pressure Lowering

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This figure contains two images. Figure a is labeled “pure water.” It shows a beaker half-filled with liquid. In the liquid, eleven molecules are evenly dispersed in the liquid each consisting of one central red sphere and two slightly smaller white spheres are shown. Four molecules near the surface of the liquid have curved arrows drawn from them pointing to the space above the liquid in the beaker. Above the liquid, twelve molecules are shown, with arrows pointing from three of them into the liquid below. Figure b is labeled “Aqueous solution.” It is similar to figure a except that eleven blue spheres, slightly larger in size than the molecules, are dispersed evenly in the liquid. Only four curved arrows appear in this diagram with two from the molecules in the liquid pointing to the space above and two from molecules in the space above the liquid pointing into the liquid below.
Figure 1. The presence of nonvolatile solutes lowers the vapor pressure of a solution by impeding the evaporation of solvent molecules. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

Vapor Pressure Lowering (OpenStax Chemistry 2e)

The equilibrium vapor pressure of a liquid is the pressure exerted by its gaseous phase when vaporization and condensation are occurring at equal rates: liquid⇌gas

Dissolving a nonvolatile substance in a volatile liquid results in a lowering of the liquid’s vapor pressure. This phenomenon can be rationalized by considering the effect of added solute molecules on the liquid’s vaporization and condensation processes. To vaporize, solvent molecules must be present at the surface of the solution. The presence of solute decreases the surface area available to solvent molecules and thereby reduces the rate of solvent vaporization. Since the rate of condensation is unaffected by the presence of solute, the net result is that the vaporization-condensation equilibrium is achieved with fewer solvent molecules in the vapor phase (i.e., at a lower vapor pressure) (Figure 1). While this interpretation is useful, it does not account for several important aspects of the colligative nature of vapor pressure lowering.

The relationship between the vapor pressures of solution components and the concentrations of those components is described by Raoult’s law: The partial pressure exerted by any component of an ideal solution is equal to the vapor pressure of the pure component multiplied by its mole fraction in the solution.

where PA is the partial pressure exerted by component A in the solution, P∗APA* is the vapor pressure of pure A, and XA is the mole fraction of A in the solution.

The total pressure of a gaseous mixture is equal to the sum of partial pressures for all its components (Dalton’s law of partial pressures), the total vapor pressure exerted by a solution containing i components is

A nonvolatile substance is one whose vapor pressure is negligible (P* ≈ 0), and so the vapor pressure above a solution containing only nonvolatile solutes is due only to the solvent:

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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