Pressure and Temperature: Amontons Law
Imagine filling a rigid container attached to a pressure gauge with gas and then sealing the container so that no gas may escape. If the container is cooled, the gas inside likewise gets colder and its pressure is observed to decrease. Since the container is rigid and tightly sealed, both the volume and number of moles of gas remain constant. If we heat the sphere, the gas inside gets hotter (Figure 1) and the pressure increases.
This relationship between temperature and pressure is observed for any sample of gas confined to a constant volume. An example of experimental pressure-temperature data is shown for a sample of air under these conditions in Figure 2. We find that temperature and pressure are linearly related, and if the temperature is on the kelvin scale, then P and T are directly proportional (again, when volume and moles of gas are held constant); if the temperature on the kelvin scale increases by a certain factor, the gas pressure increases by the same factor.
Guillaume Amontons was the first to empirically establish the relationship between the pressure and the temperature of a gas (~1700), and Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac determined the relationship more precisely (~1800). Because of this, the P–T relationship for gases is known as either Amontons’s law or Gay-Lussac’s law. Under either name, it states that the pressure of a given amount of gas is directly proportional to its temperature on the kelvin scale when the volume is held constant. Mathematically, this can be written:
where ∝ means “is proportional to,” and k is a proportionality constant that depends on the identity, amount, and volume of the gas.
For a confined, constant volume of gas, the ratio P/T is therefore constant (i.e., P/T = k). If the gas is initially in “Condition 1” (with P = P1 and T = T1), and then changes to “Condition 2” (with P = P2 and T = T2), we have that P1 / T1 = k and P2 / T2 = k, which reduces to P1 / T1 = P2 / T2. This equation is useful for pressure-temperature calculations for a confined gas at constant volume. Note that temperatures must be on the kelvin scale for any gas law calculations (0 on the kelvin scale and the lowest possible temperature is called absolute zero). (Also note that there are at least three ways we can describe how the pressure of a gas changes as its temperature changes: We can use a table of values, a graph, or a mathematical equation.)
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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