Henry's law constant (dimensionless)

Description

Henry’s law states : “At a constant temperature, the amount of a given gas that dissolves in a given type and volume of liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid.”

In chemistry, Henry’s law is one of the gas laws formulated by the English chemist William Henry, who studied the topic in the early 19th century. In his publication about the quantity of gases absorbed by water, he described the results of his experiments:

...“water takes up, of gas condensed by one, two, or more additional atmospheres, a quantity which, ordinarily compressed, would be equal to twice, thrice, &c. the volume absorbed under the common pressure of the atmosphere.”

In other words, the amount of dissolved gas is proportional to its partial pressure in the gas phase. The proportionality factor is called the Henry’s law constant.

An example where Henry’s law is at play is in the depth-dependent dissolution of oxygen and nitrogen in the blood of underwater divers that changes during decompression, leading to decompression sickness. An everyday example is given by one’s experience with carbonated soft drinks, which contain dissolved carbon dioxide. Before opening, the gas above the drink in its container is almost pure carbon dioxide, at a pressure higher than atmospheric pressure. After the bottle is opened, this gas escapes, moving the partial pressure of carbon dioxide above the liquid to be much lower, resulting in degassing as the dissolved carbon dioxide comes out of solution.

The Henry volatility can also be expressed as the dimensionless ratio between the gas-phase concentration of a species and its aqueous-phase concentration, as shown here.

In chemical engineering and environmental chemistry, this dimensionless constant is often called the air–water partitioning coefficient.

Related formulas

Variables

kHHenry's law constant (dimensionless)
Cggas-phase concentration (mol/l)
Caaqueous-phase concentration (mol/l)