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Gas Pressure
200 kPa

500 kPa

400 kPa

1100 kPa

? kPa

Gas Pressure

The gas pressure in a container is caused by the collision of gas molecules with the wall of the container.

How to measure gas pressure?

Bourdon Gauge
Bourdon gauge (consists of a semicircular or C-shaped copper tube that tends to straighten if more and more gas is pumped (compressed) into it).

Manometer (consists of a U-tube about 1 m in height. About 50% of the volume of the U-tube is filled with liquid such as mercury or water).

With both legs of a U-tube manometer open to the atmosphere or subjected to the same pressure, the liquid maintains the same level in each leg, establishing a zero reference.

With a greater pressure applied to the left side of a U-tube manometer, the liquid lowers in the left leg and rises in the right leg.

The liquid moves until the unit weight of the liquid, as indicated by h, exactly balances the pressure.


A manometer measures the pressure of a gas in a container Gas pressure is the force exerted by the collisions of gas particles with a surface

Variations on the U-Tube Manometer


Earths Atmosphere
About 10 km thick Consists mostly of molecular nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2)

The air is made up of molecules.

Gravity pulls the air molecules toward the earth, giving them weight. The weight of the air molecules all around us is called the atmospheric pressure. The atmospheric pressure is caused by the downward force exerted by the air, or the weight of the atmosphere on the Earths surface.

1 atmosphere = 76 mm Hg = 10 m water = 1.0 x 105Pa

High altitudes = lower pressure

Low altitudes = higher pressure

The greater altitude from the sea level, the smaller the atmospheric pressure.


A Barometer
is used

to measure air pressure.

The Aneroid Barometer

No fragile tubes! No toxic chemicals! No batteries! Never needs winding!


An aneroid barometer uses a cell which has had most of the air removed.
As the air pressure around the cell increases, it presses on the cell, which causes the needle to move.

In 1643, Evangelista Torricelli invented the barometer

Torricellis barometer used a glass column suspended in a bowl of mercury. The pressure of the air molecules pushed the mercury up into the glass tube. The weight of the mercury in the tube was equal to the weight of the air pressing down on the mercury in the dish.

As atmospheric pressure increases The mercury in the tube rises.

The Mercury Barometer

Simple to construct Highly accurate

Glass tube is fragile Mercury is very toxic!

Example 1:
The atmospheric pressure is 760 mm Hg. What is the value of the atmospheric pressure in Pascal? [ Density of mercury, (Hg) = 13 600 kg m-3 ]

Changing Pressure
A rising barometer = increasing air pressure. This usually means:

Rising barometer readings indicate that a high pressure system is approaching. Higher atmospheric pressure is usually associated with fair weather and clearing skies.

Changing Pressure
A falling barometer = decreasing air pressure. This usually means:
Falling barometer readings usually indicate the approach of an area of low pressure. Low pressure readings are usually associated with storm systems. Tornadoes and hurricanes can produce very low barometric readings.