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Adsorption: Applications

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Adsorption: Applications - Lesson Summary

The phenomenon of adsorption finds very extensive applications in industry, research laboratories and in everyday life.


Important Applications of Adsorption
→ Production of High Vacuum
→ Gas Masks
→ Humidity Control
→ Clarification of Sugar
→ Chromatographic Analysis
→ Heterogeneous Catalysis
→ Adsorption Indicators
→ Separation of Inert Gases
→ Froth Floatation Processes
→ Curing Diseases

Production of high vacuum:

A vessel that has already been evacuated by a vacuum pump may still contain traces of air. If a bulb of activated charcoal is connected to this vessel, the remaining traces of air get adsorbed by the activated charcoal. This results in the production of a very high vacuum

Gas masks, used by miners in mines, provide protection from both, particulate matter and poisonous gases. These are based on the phenomenon of adsorption.

Adsorption is to control humidity in the air:

Silica and aluminium gel are used to keep the relative humidity as low as possible. They adsorb moisture from the air, thereby preventing damage to electronic devices and musical instruments..

An application of adsorption from solutions is the clarification of sugar:

Animal charcoal is used to decolourise sugar solution

Heterogeneous catalysis:

Adsorption plays a very important part in the catalysis of gaseous reactions by solid surfaces.

According to the adsorption theory, gaseous reactants are adsorbed on the surface of a solid catalyst.

This increases the concentration of the reactant on the surface of the solid catalyst, thereby increasing the rate of reaction. The theory also explains the greater efficiency of the catalyst in a finely divided state.

Ex: Iron is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of ammonia.

 N2(g) + 3H2(g) → 2NH3(g)

An important application of adsorption in the laboratory is as an adsorption indicator:

An adsorption indicator is a substance that is adsorbed, along with a change in the colour at or near the equivalence point of a titration. This finds use in precipitation titrations.

EX: potassium bromide is easily titrated with silver nitrate using eosin as an indicator.

Adsorption is also used to separate inert gases:

A mixture of inert gases like neon, helium and argon get separated because of the varying degrees of adsorption of the individual gases on coconut charcoal at different temperatures.

The froth floatation process of concentration of sulphide ores in metallurgy is also an adsorption phenomenon.

Adsorption plays a very important role in biological systems:

One very important application of adsorption is in curing diseases.

A number of drugs get adsorbed on the surface of germs in the human body. The germs are killed by the action of the drug and the disease is eliminated.


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