Concept

# Osmotic pressure

Summary
Osmotic pressure is the minimum pressure which needs to be applied to a solution to prevent the inward flow of its pure solvent across a semipermeable membrane. It is also defined as the measure of the tendency of a solution to take in its pure solvent by osmosis. Potential osmotic pressure is the maximum osmotic pressure that could develop in a solution if it were separated from its pure solvent by a semipermeable membrane. Osmosis occurs when two solutions containing different concentrations of solute are separated by a selectively permeable membrane. Solvent molecules pass preferentially through the membrane from the low-concentration solution to the solution with higher solute concentration. The transfer of solvent molecules will continue until equilibrium is attained. Jacobus van 't Hoff found a quantitative relationship between osmotic pressure and solute concentration, expressed in the following equation: where is osmotic pressure, i is the dimensionless van 't Hoff index, c is the molar concentration of solute, R is the ideal gas constant, and T is the absolute temperature (usually in kelvins). This formula applies when the solute concentration is sufficiently low that the solution can be treated as an ideal solution. The proportionality to concentration means that osmotic pressure is a colligative property. Note the similarity of this formula to the ideal gas law in the form where n is the total number of moles of gas molecules in the volume V, and n/V is the molar concentration of gas molecules. Harmon Northrop Morse and Frazer showed that the equation applied to more concentrated solutions if the unit of concentration was molal rather than molar; so when the molality is used this equation has been called the Morse equation. For more concentrated solutions the van 't Hoff equation can be extended as a power series in solute concentration, c. To a first approximation, where is the ideal pressure and A is an empirical parameter. The value of the parameter A (and of parameters from higher-order approximations) can be used to calculate Pitzer parameters.