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Chemistry LibreTexts

8: Solutions

Solutions are homogeneous (single-phase) mixtures of two or more components. For convenience, we often refer to the majority component as the solvent; minority components are solutes; there is really no fundamental distinction between them. Solutions play a very important role in Chemistry because they allow intimate and varied encounters between molecules of different kinds, a condition that is essential for rapid chemical reactions to occur.

  • 8.1: Solutions and their Concentrations
    Concentration is a general term that expresses the quantity of solute contained in a given amount of solution. Various ways of expressing concentration are in use; the choice is usually a matter of convenience in a particular application. You should become familiar with all of them.
  • 8.2: Thermodynamics of Solutions
    The two fundamental processes that must occur whenever a solute dissolves in a solvent, and discuss the effects of the absorption or release of energy on the extent of these processes.
  • 8.3: Colligative Properties: Raoult's Law
    The reduction in the vapor pressure of a solution is directly proportional to the fraction of the [volatile] solute molecules in the liquid — that is, to the mole fraction of the solvent. The reduced vapor pressure is given by Raoult's law.
  • 8.4: Colligative Properties: Boiling Point Elevation and Freezing Point Depression
    The temperature at which the vapor pressure of a solution is 1 atm will be higher than the normal boiling point by an amount known as the boiling point elevation.
  • 8.5: Colligative Properties - Osmotic Pressure
    Osmosis is the process in which a liquid passes through a membrane whose pores permit the passage of solvent molecules but are too small for the larger solute molecules to pass through.
  • 8.6: Reverse Osmosis
    Applying a hydrostatic pressure greater than this to the high-solute side of an osmotic cell will force water to flow back into the fresh-water side. This process, known as reverse osmosis, is now the major technology employed to desalinate ocean water and to reclaim "used" water from power plants, runoff, and even from sewage. It is also widely used to deionize ordinary water and to purify it for for industrial uses (especially beverage and food manufacture) and drinking purposes.
  • 8.7: Colligative Properties and Entropy
    All four colligative properties result from “dilution” of the solvent by the added solute. More specifically, these all result from the effect of dilution of the solvent on its entropy, and thus in the increase in the density of energy states of the system in the solution compared to that in the pure liquid.
  • 8.8: Ideal vs. Real Solutions
    One might expect the vapor pressure of a solution of ethanol and water to be directly proportional to the sums of the values predicted by Raoult's law for the two liquids individually, but in general, this does not happen. The reason for this can be understood if you recall that Raoult's law reflects a single effect: the smaller proportion of vaporizable molecules (and thus their reduced escaping tendency) when the liquid is diluted by otherwise "inert" (non-volatile) substance.
  • 8.9: Distillation
    Distillation is a process whereby a mixture of liquids having different vapor pressures is separated into its components. Since distillation depends on the different vapor pressures of the components to be separated, let's first consider the vapor pressure vs. composition plots for a hypothetical mixture at some arbitrary temperature at which both liquid and gas phases can exist, depending on the total pressure.
  • 8.9: Ions and Electrolytes
    Electrolytic solutions are those that are capable of conducting an electric current. A substance that, when added to water, renders it conductive, is known as an electrolyte. A common example of an electrolyte is ordinary salt, sodium chloride. Solid NaCl and pure water are both non-conductive, but a solution of salt in water is readily conductive. A solution of sugar in water, by contrast, is incapable of conducting a current; sugar is therefore a non-electrolyte.