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Published by: Ceneden Pascua Gumaro on Feb 06, 2013
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Osmotic pressure
is the pressure which needs to be applied to a solution to prevent the inward flow of water across
 It is also defined as the minimum pressure needed to nullify osmosis.
The phenomenon of osmotic pressure arises from the tendency of a pure solvent to move through a semi-permeable membraneand into a solution containing a solute to which the membrane is impermeable.This process is of vital importance in biology as the
cell's membrane is selective toward many of the solutes found in living organisms. In order to visualize this effect, imagine a U-shaped clear tube with equal amounts of water on each side, separated by amembrane at its base that is impermeable to sugar molecules (made from dialysis tubing). Sugar has been added to the water on
one side. The height of the water on each side will change proportional to the pressure of the solutions.
Osmotic pressure causes the height of the water in the compartment containing the sugar to rise, due to movement of the purewater from the compartment without sugar into the compartment containing the sugar water. This process will stop once thepressures of the water and sugar water toward both sides of the membrane are equated. (See 
).Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff  first proposed a formula for calculating the osmotic pressure, but this was later improved uponby Harmon Northrop Morse.
Osmotic potential
is the opposite of  water potential,which is the degree to which a solvent tends to stay in a liquid.
Thermodynamic explanation
Consider the system at the point it has reached equilibrium. The condition for this is that the chemical potential 
of the 
(since only it is free to flow toward equilibrium) on
sides of the membrane is equal. The compartment containing thepure solvent has a chemical potential of . On the other side, the compartment containing the solute has an additionalcontribution from the solute (factored as the mole fraction of the solvent, < 1) but there also appears an addition in pressure. The balance is therefore:where denotes the external pressure, the solvent, the mole fraction of the solvent and the osmotic pressure exertedby the solutes. The addition of solute decreases the chemical potential (an entropic effect), while the pressure increases the
chemical potential, and thus a balance is reached. Note that the presence of the solute decreases the potential due to beingsmaller than 1.[edit]
Derivation of osmotic pressure
In order to find , the osmotic pressure, we consider equilibrium between a solution containing solute and pure water.We can write the left hand side as:where is the activity coefficient of the solvent. The product is also known as the acitivity of the solvent, which for water is
the water activity . The addition to the pressure is expressed through the expression for the energy of expansion:where is the molar volume (m³/mol). Inserting the expression presented above into the chemical potential equation for theentire system and rearranging will arrive at:

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