Dissolved Gas: Process & Examples

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  • 0:00 Dissolved Gas
  • 0:51 Process of Dissolving Gas
  • 3:19 Examples
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

How and why do we dissolve gas into other materials? In this lesson, explore the principles and process of dissolving gas and discover some of the common uses for this technique. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Dissolved Gas

Let's try a scientific experiment. Go grab a soda. Got it? Okay, now take the can of soda in one hand, shake the heck out of it, and open it. Ha ha. Why did the soda explode like that? In a word: science. But, if you want to get a bit more specific, we need to look at the process of creating dissolved gas, gas that has been dissolved into another material.

We're creating a mixture of elements here, so there are a few basic terms we need to know. The gas is going to dissolve into another material, so the gas is the minor component of the solution, called the solute. The solute is mixed into the main component of the solution, which is the solvent. Got it? Okay, grab another can of soda, and let's get this experiment gassed up and ready to go.

Process of Dissolving Gas

Now, when we're talking about dissolving gas, gas is the solute. It's being dissolved into something. But what's the solvent? The most common solvents are liquids; that's generally what we are dissolving gas into. However, gas can also dissolve into other gasses, which is actually how air is created, and into solids in the form of impurities trapped in the process of creating the solid.

In any case, the actual process of dissolution is going to depend on both the chemical structures of the gas and of the solvent. After all, not all gasses have the same properties. Carbon dioxide, for example, reacts differently than pure oxygen. In general, however, dissolving gas involves keeping the gas pressurized. While every gas requires a different amount of pressure to be dissolved, maintaining this pressure is the key to the process.

For a more technical approach to this process, we can turn to Henry's Law, developed in 1803 by English Chemist William Henry. According to Henry's Law, at constant temperature, the amount of gas that dissolves in a liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid. Okay, let's look at what this means. The partial pressure of a gas is the hypothetical pressure of a gas in a mixture if that gas were alone. So, if I've got an 8-ounce can of soda, the partial pressure of the gas in the soda would be the pressure of the gas in an 8-ounce can without the liquid. In the solution, this pressure is maintained as an equilibrium, meaning that the number of gas molecules dissolving into the liquid solvent equals the number of gas molecules leaving the solvent.

So, Henry's Law is that the amount of a gas that can dissolve into a liquid, the solubility, is proportional to the partial pressure of the gas. If we put that into an equation, it looks like this: C = kP where C equals solubility of gas, k equals the constant proportion, and P equals partial pressure. With this equation, we can determine the solubility of each gas as it dissolves into any solution.

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