MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: At what rate do gases compress under their own weight?

Date: Mon Jan 18 00:06:42 2010
Posted By: W Emory Lawrence MD, M.D., Family Practice/Emergency Medicine, Clay County Hospital
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1261978901.Ch

Thank you for this interesting question.

The pressure and density of the gas in each cylinder will be a direct function of the molecular weight of each.

Xenon, with molecular weight of 131 grams/mole, has a density of 5.89grams/liter at standard temperature and pressure.
Helium on the other hand has molecular weight of only 4.9 grams/mole. At 0.179 grams/liter, it is more than 30 times lighter than Xenon.

By calculating the volume of the cylinder, you can derive the total weight of the gas it contains. The pressure at the bottom will simply be the total weights of each gas divided by the surface area of each cylinder's bottom.

E Lawrence MD

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