# Are the gas laws compeletely true?

1. Dec 4, 2013

### Superhoben

I've looked alittle at the gas laws and I get the feeling that they are simplified. From what I can see they don't take intermolecular forces into account. Will the intermolecular forces simply dissapear or just get so weak that we don't take them into account?
The gas law I'm thinking about here is mainly p1*V1/T1=p2*V2/T2 (sorry, I don't know how to write math on computers).

2. Dec 4, 2013

### voko

That law is called the ideal gas law. "Ideal" means "simplified". So you are correct. There are gas models that take the intermolecular forces into account. Perhaps the most famous (and historically first) of these is the van der Waals model. But that, too, is a simplification, there are more complex models, giving rise to equations of state of varying complexity.

3. Dec 4, 2013

### sophiecentaur

Look at the definition of the particles in an ideal gas - totally unreasonable if you're being really fussy.
The intermolecular forces correspond to changes in the Potential Energy between molecules as they her closer and closer together. So, if the total energy in the system is unchanged (it is), then the KE of the molecules (defining the Temperature) will not be what you might expect (from the gas laws) when a real gas is highly compressed. There is no end to how far you can refine these models but they are still useful within particular ranges of conditions.

4. Dec 4, 2013

### Staff: Mentor

The ideal gas law accurately describes the behavior of real gases in the limit of low pressures. As a rule of thumb, this means pressures on the order of one atmosphere or less, give or take. For higher pressures, as Voko points out, more accurate mathematical approximations to real gas behavior are available.

5. Dec 4, 2013

### cjl

The ideal gas law can work fairly well to several tens of atmospheres of pressure - it isn't just limited to ~1atm or less. If you wanted to determine the mass of air in your bicycle tire, for example, it would work just fine.

6. Dec 4, 2013

### Superhoben

Thanks alot for your responses guys. Do anyone of you know some good site for more details about where and why this modell work (and for exampel why it differ more from reality at higher pressures) or some other model which give more accurate approximations?
I think that I start to understand how the volume of gases is connected with pressure and temprature (and vice versa).
Do you know anywhere to look up how much the intermolekylar forces affect the gases? Just a few graphs would be enough for me to get an slight understand though I would prefer a good modell (that's not way to advanced, I'm quite interested in physics but I know very little).

7. Dec 4, 2013

### Staff: Mentor

Check out this web site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equation_of_state

Also, look up "law of corresponding states", which says that all materials behave roughly the same when their compressability factor z is expressed in terms of reduced temperature and reduced pressure. Reduced pressure is the actual pressure divided by the critical pressure, and reduced temperature is the actual temperature divided by the critical temperature.

For more details, see Smith and Van Ness, Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics.

Chet

8. Dec 4, 2013

### wreckemtech

Try this too: http://chemed.chem.purdue.edu/genchem/topicreview/bp/ch4/deviation5.html

In layman's terms:

Basically, the larger and more "sticky" the molecules are, the more the collisions between them deviate from being perfectly elastic. The "stickyness" can be there for a variety of reasons including the individual molecules having strong dipole moments or geometry that lends itself to "catching" on other molecules rather than bouncing straight off, or just being large as far as gas molecules go.

9. Dec 5, 2013

### klimatos

Most gas laws require that conditions of equilibrium exist (if not throughout the process, then at least at the beginning and end of it). Since the Earth's atmosphere in never even close to a condition of equilibrium, one must be very, very cautious in trying to apply laboratory-valid gas laws to the free atmosphere.

10. Dec 5, 2013

### dauto

Nonsense. The earth's atmosphere is very accurately described by the ideal gas law.

11. Dec 5, 2013

### Staff: Mentor

Well said!!!

12. Dec 5, 2013

### sophiecentaur

The word "nonsense" is a bit overstated, I think a bit on the rude side, to be jumping in with that term, imo. The gas laws apply well within various regions of the atmosphere and describe how clouds and air masses function. Overall behaviour is a bit more complicated than can be dealt with by just using the gas laws, I think.
klimatos only said you need to be cautious and he is right.

13. Dec 5, 2013

### dauto

The ideal gas law relates the density, pressure, and temperature very accurately everywhere in the atmosphere with the possible exception of the extremely thin layer of the exosphere where free path length becomes larger then the characteristic length of the temperature fluctuations.

PS. I don't find the word nonsense particularly rude but I've been known for dishing out terse responses before. I apologize if that word offended anybody.

14. Dec 5, 2013

### sophiecentaur

If you use the word "nonsense' in your first salvo then you may have nowhere further to go without being offensive. Sometimes, a post contains 'nonsense' due to a misreading or mis-writing and it's normal to give someone a way out, at least the first time through, before that sort of response.
I think you mis-read the meaning of that post. It has to be true that air often follows the gas laws but it's only half the story if you are trying to predict what the weather is likely to do - or even how the temperature is going to vary with height in a real atmosphere. Factors such as the rate of absorption of various wavelengths of EM are very important - not to mention the Dynamics of a spinning globe. And there's the small matter of the way water behaves, too. As you were so ready to voice your objection, I am sure you are aware of all that.
I'm sure klimatos is more than capable of fighting his own battles but your response was a bit over-simplistic, I think (although not 'total nonsense' )

15. Dec 5, 2013

### dauto

The ideal gas law just states a relationship between temperature, density, and pressure of a gas which applies very accurately everywhere in the atmosphere (even when water changes states). That law by itself isn't enough to predict the weather off course, but it still applies.

16. Dec 5, 2013

### voko

Ideal gas law applies when water changes states? Who mentioned "nonsense" in this thread?

17. Dec 5, 2013

### sophiecentaur

I read that post again (the one you objected to). I, personally, took "applying" as meaning 'using the laws to predict or understand what's going on'. Merely confirming that a region of gas (up in the atmosphere) will follow those laws is pretty pointless. You need to do more than just verify the gas laws if you want to say anything useful about the atmosphere. You have said that they are not adequate for that purpose and that one should be careful in applying them and expecting a proper answer.
Like I said, you must have mis - read the meaning of that post because you took exception to something you have later agreed with. Much harder to step back whey you ave already used the N word.

18. Dec 5, 2013

### sophiecentaur

Far be it from me to mention that word.

19. Dec 5, 2013

### dauto

Yes it does. Not to the water off course since it won't be a gas any more. But the remaining atmospheric gasses pressure, temperature, and density will indeed be related by the ideal gas law. The water vapor itself near the phase transition deviates from the ideal gas law but it is a small component by volume of the total atmosphere. Small enough that there isn't much to be gained by including the water vapor anomalous behavior near the phase transition into the calculations. In other words, the ideal law is an accurate description of the gases in the atmosphere everywhere on earth.

20. Dec 5, 2013

### cjl

I disagree with this sentiment. To me, this is like stating that one must be careful when applying Ohm's law to a flashlight, since it doesn't predict when the battery will die. While true, it's largely irrelevant to the accuracy or applicability of the law. The ideal gas law applies very nearly everywhere in the earth's atmosphere to a very high accuracy, and whether or not it predicts atmospheric behavior or not is irrelevant. The law neither claims to nor is it intended to do such a thing. All the law does is relate a gas's temperature, pressure, and density. At any point in the atmosphere, given two of those three things, one can apply the ideal gas law to find the third (and it will be correct, to a high degree of accuracy).