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The Effect of the Molecular Weight of a Substance on Its Rate of Diffusion1
Mark Angelo A. Ordonio
Group 4 Sec. Y – 5L
August 22, 2012
A scientific paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements in General Biology I
Laboratory under Dr. Severina B. Exconde, 1st semester 2012-2013.
et al. However. the kinetic theory describes a gas as a large number of molecules in constant. it states that all matter is made up of tiny particles called molecules. with methylene blue having the shortest diameter of diffusion zone (dfinal = 9 mm). thus HCl travelled slower than NH3. The distance travelled by the two reacting gases was measured. The diameter of each diffusion zone was measured at threeminute intervals for thirty minutes.199 mm/min). each using a different medium. and methylene blue was placed on respective wells in an agar-water gel set-up. its actual path is a series of straight lines connected end to end in no particular pattern.125 cm). the partial rate of diffusion is inversely proportional with the time elapsed. with HCl covering the shortest distance (dave = 18. its molecules will gradually spread out (Smoot. thus methylene blue diffused the slowest (rave = 0. ammonia (NH3) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) were made to react inside a glass tube to form ammonium chloride (NH4Cl). In terms of time. INTRODUCTION According to the molecular theory of matter. HCl has greater molecular weight compared to NH3 as well as with methylene blue compared with KMnO4 and K2Cr2O7. satisfying the premise that the higher the molecular weight. if the concentration of a particular substance is greater in one area of a container than in another. The . 1990).2 ABSTRACT The effect of the molecular weight of a substance on its rate of diffusion was determined with two tests. random motion. An assumption of the kinetic theory is that gas molecules travel in straight lines. Since a molecule frequently collides with other molecules. potassium dichromate (K2Cr2O7). Using air as medium. Using gel as a medium. the slower the rate of diffusion is. a drop each of potassium permanganate (KMnO4). rapidly moving and colliding with each other and with the walls of the container. In gases.
These collisions are due to the high molecular velocities associated with the thermal energy “powering” the particles (Nave. separated by the cell membrane from another mixture of things in water (BSCS. At a given temperature. Thus. molecular size. 1963). signifying no net change in the distribution of molecules. with frequency equal from one place with another. The greater the concentration of a substance in an area of a system entails that the frequency of particles colliding with each other is higher. as noted by the odour.3 spread of molecules from a place where they are more abundant per unit of volume (and. temperature. With the same amount of energy. the diffusion that concerns us the most is diffusion of substances dissolved in water molecules and of water molecules themselves. causing the particles to collide at a faster rate. where collisions are more frequent) to places where they are less abundant per unit of volume (where collisions are less frequent) is called diffusion (BSCS. All active. This is because the larger the size of a particle. That is. and electric or pressure gradients that may be present. Diffusion continues until the molecules are evenly distributed throughout the space available. Starr and Taggart (2004) pointed several factors that influence the rates of movement down a concentration gradient: steepness. cells of the human body are no exception. 2008). releasing ammonia in one part of a room will allow it to disperse it on the entire room. non-dormant cells exist in a water environment. In biology. 2007). a smaller particle can be pushed faster than a larger particle. 1963). collisions and rebounds continue. a greater amount of force is said to be required to move the particle (Meyertholen. a smaller particle is said to diffuse at a faster rate than a larger one. therefore. a smaller particle will diffuse faster than a larger one. For example. a living cell in is environment is a mixture of things in water. Adding a coloured soluble solid in a water-filled beaker will also spread the colour on the medium. Thus. . the hypothesis of the study is that the rate of diffusion is inversely proportional to the size of the particle.
On the other hand. the substances are dyes which make them easily identifiable and suitable for measurement of the diameter of the drops within a period of thirty minutes. with water as medium. Rafael B. KMnO4. . to identify the factors that could possibly affect the rate of diffusion of substances. and methylene blue was placed in three different wells on a petri dish with agar-water gel. to explain the effect of molecular weight of a substance on its rate of diffusion. NH3) was measured – this will indicate the relationship between the molecular weight and the rate of diffusion. This study intended to determine the effect the molecular weight of a substance on its rate of diffusion using different media. Two cotton balls of identical sizes were moistened with hydrochloric acid. K2Cr2O7. A drop each of potassium permanganate. The study was conducted at Room C-107. HCl and ammonium hydroxide. Espino Wing (Institute of Biological Sciences). two set-ups using different media were used. Leopoldo B. The specific objectives were 1. potassium dichromate. the agar-water gel test. The distance travelled by the two reacting gases (HCl and ammonia. was then used to assess and verify the effect of the molecular weight on the rate of diffusion of different substances.4 To validate the hypothesis relating the molecular weight of a substance to its rate of diffusion. First. the glass tube set-up using air as medium was used. Uichanco Hall (Biological Sciences Building) of the College of Arts and Science. which were then placed concurrently in each end of the glass tubing. University of the Philippines Los Baños Laguna on August 14. NH4OH. and 2. Possessing different colours. 2012.
Partial rates of each substance at a specific time were plotted for analysis. Two equally-sized cotton balls each soaked in HCl and NH4OH were plugged simultaneously at each end of the glass tube.1) was initially prepared. The average rate of diffusion (in mm/min) was computed using the following formula: = (1) where di = diameter of diffusion zone at a given time di-1 = diameter of diffusion zone immediately before di ti = time when di was measured ti-1 = time immediately before ti All computed values were tabulated and the mean of the computed partial rates as well as the average rate of diffusion of each substance was calculated. potassium dichromate (K2Cr2O7). the set-up (Figure 4. . and methylene blue.5 MATERIALS AND METHODS For the glass tube test. A drop of the following coloured solutions. The white smoke forming a ring inside the tube was observed and marked. The distance (in cm) between the cotton and at the marked position was then measured and recorded. a petri dish containing water-agar gel with three wells was initially prepared. For the agar-water gel test. substances which differed in their molecular weights was placed on their respective wells: potassium permanganate (KMnO4). The diameter (in mm) of each diffusion zone was measured and recorded in regular three-minute intervals for thirty minutes.
1.6 Figure 4. . The glass tube set-up.
4295 0.7908 Average 23. Distance (cm) (d) Trial Total Ratio distance dNH3 D NH3 HCl 40.5258 0. Distances travelled by the diffusion of ammonia gas and hydrochloric acid gas and ratios of the distances to the total distance.9201 24.5 0.5 17.0 17.0 15.4416 0.0 0.875 cm) as compared to NH3 (dave = 18. which tells .875 18.1.7598 dHCl dNH3 (D) 1 25.5 2 25.5854 0. NH4Cl.7082 4 21.0 3 The white smoke that formed inside the tube is ammonium chloride.6173 0. it shows that HCl travelled at a longer distance (dave = 23. It uses air as medium of diffusion for the gases NH3 and HCl. The reaction involved.4792 0.5584 0.125 cm).6200 23. the glass tube test was utilized.4146 0.0 38.5717 0.3827 0. as seen in (4).0 0. Based on the presented data.125 42.0 0. we could deduce that the measured rates of diffusion of a series of molecules are proportional to the molecular weights of diffusing substances.1.7 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION To be able to develop a hypothesis that relates the molecular weight of a substance and its rate of diffusion.0 41. is described by the following mechanisms: HCl(l) → HCl(g) (2) NH4OH(l) → NH3 (g) + H2O(l) (3) HCl(g) + NH3 (g) → NH4Cl(g) (4) Table 4.0 48. the formation of NH4Cl.5 dHCl D 0. As seen in Table 4. the product of the reaction between HCl and NH3 by diffusion.
Graham’s Law was derived. This . molecules of low mass diffuse faster than molecules of large mass because they travel faster. which will also pass a small hole (effuse) more rapidly than the molecules of higher mass. Given two substances in constant temperature. gases and liquids). since NH3 has a smaller molecular weight. Hydrochloric acid (MM = 36 g/mol) has a relatively larger molecular weight compared to ammonia (MM = 17 g/mol). NH3 must travel faster and must reach the other end with a longer distance compared to HCl. the initial part of the experiment showed the opposite. substances that can be seen to diffuse as well as a medium that permits diffusion should be considered. the hypothesis “the higher the molecular weight. As the difficulty arises from measuring unseen moving molecules in fluids (i. the average kinetic energies must also be constant. with the assumption that the rate of diffusion varies directly with the velocity of molecules.e. it must also diffuse at a higher rate. = (5) which shows that the relative rates of diffusion of two gases vary inversely as the square root of their molecular masses (Smoot. However. et al. Moving media affects the rate of diffusion. Theoretically. At constant temperature. the faster the diffusion” is developed. 1990). Re-testing the hypothesis using the agar-water gel test was done. Since HCl travelled faster. From this. Gases do not diffuse at the same rate. thus. so incorporating water into a gel still allows diffusion in the same medium (water) but is not moving and will not influence the rate of diffusion.8 us that the site of the initial reaction occurred near NH3.
.9 (a) (b) Figure 4. each containing a drop of potassium permanganate (purple). (a) Initial and (b) final agar water-gel set-up with three wells.2. and methylene blue (dark blue). potassium dichromate (yellow).
after the thirtyminute period. KMnO4 (MM = 158 g/mol) has the least against K2Cr2O7 (MM = 294 g/mol) and methylene blue (MM = 374 g/mol). Comparing their molecular weights. Diameters of the diffusion zones made by drops of potassium permanganate. causing its immobilization.2 show that KMnO4.3 shows the average rate of diffusion.465 mm/min) among the three. Table 4. Time Diameter (mm) Potassium Potassium Methylene permanganate dichromate blue 0 5 5 3 3 11 8 7 6 12 9 7 9 14 10 7 12 15 10 7 15 16 11 7 18 17 11 8 21 17 12 9 24 18 12 9 27 18 12 9 30 19 12 9 (min) . with KMnO4 having the fastest rate of diffusion (rave = 0. Table 4. The measured diameters in Table 4. while methylene blue has the smallest. exhibited the largest diffusion zone among the three. and methylene blue measured at threeminute intervals for thirty minutes.2.10 is because a gel is made up of a framework of solid particles (chains) which trap water in their interstices. potassium dichromate.
being the lightest.33 0. it does not support the hypothesis that the higher the molecular weight. being the heaviest.33 0.00 27 0. to further display the trend and pattern with this phenomenon.00 12 0.3 and 4. had the largest diameter covered after 30 minutes. From Figure 4. the slower the rate of diffusion.3. respectively.33 0. The expansion of the diffusion zones measured by the diameters show the diffusion of the substances.00 1.00 15 0.67 0.00 0.00 0.00 30 0. Graham’s law proves these results.33 0. Partial rates of diffusion (mm/min) Time elapsed Potassium Potassium Methylene (min) permanganate dichromate blue 3 2.00 0. but support the theoretical claim that the higher the molecular weight.33 21 0.00 0.33 24 0.00 0. potassium dichromate.199 Average rate of diffusion (mm/min) Figures 4.00 18 0. methylene blue. Meanwhile.33 0.11 Table 4.00 0.465 0.33 0. the faster the rate of diffusion.00 0.00 1.33 0. Partial rates of diffusion of potassium permanganate.3. however.33 6 0.33 0.33 0.232 0.00 0.33 0. and methylene blue measured at three-minute intervals for thirty minutes. . it can be observed that potassium permanganate.00 9 0. had the smallest diameter covered.4 show graphs of the average rate of diffusion with respect to the factors molecular weight and time.
5 Linear (K2Cr2O7) Linear (methylene blue) 0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 Time elapsed (min) Figure 4.5 KMnO4 K2Cr2O7 1 methylene blue Linear (KMnO4) 0.5 0.2 0. 2 1. Average rate of diffusion of three coloured solutions with respect to Partial rate of diffusion (mm/min) molecular weight.3. .4 Partial rates of diffusion of various coloured solutions in an agar-water gel with respect to time.3 0.Average rate of diffusion (mm/min) 12 0.4 0.1 0 158 294 374 Molecular weight (g/mol) Figure 4.
4 shows the relationship between the partial rates of diffusion with respect to time elapsed.13 Figure 4. as suggested by the lines of best fit for each coloured solution. For better results regarding the second experiment. The negative slope indicates that time is inversely proportional to the rate of diffusion. the wells must be equal in size and shape to provide better basis of comparison. . The inconsistency of the results shown in the first test with theoretical basis is possibly caused by human errors. It indicates that as time proceeds. the rate of diffusion tends to decrease. Non-spontaneity in plugging the cotton balls can cause the gas on the first plugged cotton ball to diffuse first before the other.
Also. These set-ups differ in the medium used: air on the glass tube set-up and water on the water-agar gel set-up. since the first experiment was found to be inconsistent with theory. It is recommended that. to be able to arrive with results that can be easily based with scientific claims. the substance with the lighter molecular weight value (MM= 17 g/mol. the heavier substance (MM= 36 g/mol. the experiment be strictly observed in terms of handling and execution.875 cm) diffused at a faster rate than NH3.125 cm). the rate of diffusion also decreases. the second experiment showed that methylene blue (MM= 374 g/mol) the substance with heavier molecular value had diffused the slowest (rave = 0. Contrary to the previous results.199 mm/min) than the other two substances. dave = 23. the higher the molecular weight of a substance.14 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION The effect of molecular weight on the rate of diffusion was determined using the glass tube set-up and the water-agar gel set-up. However. as verified by the second experiment. Thus. the slower the rate of diffusion. results showed that HCl. . Several factors such as irregularities in temperature and concentration may affect the results. dave = 18. the hypothesis was considered void. as time proceeds. On the first experiment.
E. High School Biology.gsu. .austincc.C. Smoot. California: Thomson Brooks/Cole. 87. Retrieved Aug. p. Diffusion. 2012 http://hyperphysics. 1990. and R. Taggart. 2008.15 LITERATURE CITED Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). 2nd ed. and J. 2007.html from from Starr. 1963. 2012 R.edu/~emeyerth/diffuse1. 16. Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life. Belmont. 2004. Meyertholen. Retrieved Aug. 10th ed. 384-385. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company. P..edu/hbase/kinetic/diffus. Columbus. 16. R. 365-366. Smith. Price. Ohio: Merrill Publishin Company. p. http://www.htm Nave. C. R. Chemistry: A Modern Course.phyastr. Diffusion.G.
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