Vapor pressure

Pressure exerted by a vapor in thermodynamic equilibrium / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Vapor pressure[lower-alpha 1] or equilibrium vapor pressure is the pressure exerted by a vapor in thermodynamic equilibrium with its condensed phases (solid or liquid) at a given temperature in a closed system. The equilibrium vapor pressure is an indication of a liquid's thermodynamic tendency to evaporate. It relates to the balance of particles escaping from the liquid (or solid) in equilibrium with those in a coexisting vapor phase. A substance with a high vapor pressure at normal temperatures is often referred to as volatile. The pressure exhibited by vapor present above a liquid surface is known as vapor pressure. As the temperature of a liquid increases, the attractive interactions between liquid molecules become less significant in comparison to the entropy of those molecules in the gas phase, increasing the vapor pressure. Thus, liquids with strong intermolecular interactions are likely to have smaller vapor pressures, with the reverse true for weaker interactions.

The microscopic process of evaporation and condensation at the liquid surface.
If vapor pressure exceeds the thermodynamic equilibrium value, condensation occurs in presence of nucleation sites. This principle is indigenous in cloud chambers, where ionized particles form condensation tracks when passing through.
The pistol test tube experiment. The tube contains alcohol and is closed with a piece of cork. By heating the alcohol, the vapors fill in the space, increasing the pressure in the tube to the point of the cork popping out.

The vapor pressure of any substance increases non-linearly with temperature, often described by the Clausius–Clapeyron relation. The atmospheric pressure boiling point of a liquid (also known as the normal boiling point) is the temperature at which the vapor pressure equals the ambient atmospheric pressure. With any incremental increase in that temperature, the vapor pressure becomes sufficient to overcome atmospheric pressure and cause the liquid to form vapor bubbles. Bubble formation in high liquid depths requires a slightly higher temperature due to the higher fluid pressure, due to hydrostatic pressure of the fluid mass above. More important at shallow depths is the higher temperature required to start bubble formation. The surface tension of the bubble wall leads to an overpressure in the very small, initial bubbles.

The vapor pressure that a single component in a mixture contributes to the total pressure in the system is called partial pressure. For example, air at sea level, and saturated with water vapor at 20 °C, has partial pressures of about 2.3 kPa of water, 78 kPa of nitrogen, 21 kPa of oxygen and 0.9 kPa of argon, totaling 102.2 kPa, making the basis for standard atmospheric pressure.

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