There is another question on the site which is:

Two containers, A and B, connected by a closed valve were evacuated and the Chlorine gas (Cl2) with a pressure of 200kPa was put into A and Oxygen (O2) with a pressure of 150kPa into B. a)If Container A has a volume of 10L and container B has a volume of 5L, find the total pressure within the system if the valve were opened and the gases allowed to mix b)Which of the gases would diffuse through the valve at a faster rate?

It has been a long time since I took chemistry and blundering around with Google didn't really seem to answer my question about a technical point about question (b) for this problem.

Obviously when you first open the valve between containers A and B the pressure is going to equalize. Since A has a higher pressure, gas will flow from A into B. Is this diffusion?

In a weird way the pressure equalization does fit the basic notion of diffusion - molecules mover from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. Thus if both containers had oxygen, then container A would be more concentrated (e.g mol $\rm L^{-1}$) since it has a higher pressure. Thus the molecules will move from A to B because there is a lower "concentration." However this doesn't really seem to fit my notion of either diffusion or effusion. So is there a better proper term for this or is the phrase "pressure equalization" about as good as can be done? Or am I just wrong?

Obviously after the pressures equalize, then the oxygen from the oxygen/chlorine mixture will diffuse into the chlorine faster since oxygen molecules have a lower mass.

The gist is that the question would be simple to answer if containers A and B had the same pressure. But the difference in pressure seems to make the question turn on a very exacting definition of diffusion.


Its not diffusion, it's effusion. The difference is that with diffusion the particles/molecules are migrating through a permeable medium where as for effusion the particles/molecules are migrating through a pore/hole.

For example, a scent travelling across a room is diffuision, a scent from the room traveling outside is effusion. Also fun fact: the helium escaping through a balloon skin is actually effusion not diffusion.

helpful source

Side note: I am starting to flashback to all the times my thermo professors said diffusion when they meant effusion.

|improve this answer|||||

Perhaps one way to think about this is that free space diffusion can occur without pressure differences and even when the fluid, gas is homogeneous. Albeit you may not be able to differentiate one particle from another. Diffusion in free space is a passive process of mixing that does not require a pressure gradient and just relies on the movement of molecules due to Gibbs Free Energy.

Pressure differences caused by concentration gradients, compartments separated by membrane at different pressures, etc. just add to the potential for mixing.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.