# Partial pressure of oxygen at a certain altitude

• songoku
In summary: The question is not asking for the exact pressure, it is asking for the closest value among the options provided. Therefore, looking up more accurate formulas or methods to solve the problem can be considered as a way to confirm the answer. It also shows that the person is not just guessing but using a reliable method to solve the problem.
songoku
Homework Statement
The concentration of oxygen O2 at the atmospheric pressure is 20.9% v/v. The partial pressure of this concentration is 21.2 kPa. At an altitude of 6962 m above sea level (approximately 7000 m), what is the partial pressure of oxygen?
a. 44 kPa
b. 9.33 kPa
c. 0.21 kPa
d. 0.44 kPa
e. 21 kPa
Relevant Equations
Not sure (maybe ideal gas or P = ρgh)
The pressure of oxygen at sea level = ##\frac{20.9}{100} ~\text{x} ~(21.2 ~\text{x} ~ 10^3) = 4430.8~ \text{Pa}##

Then I do not know how to calculate the pressure at altitude 7000 m. I tried using P = ρgh (taking ρ as density of air = 1.3 kg/m3) then subtract the result from 4430.8 Pa but got negative result so I guess the formula I used is wrong but I do not know what other formula to use.

Thanks

songoku said:
The pressure of oxygen at sea level = ##\frac{20.9}{100} ~\text{x} ~(21.2 ~\text{x} ~ 10^3) ##
Umm... why? Isn't the ##21.2\times10^3## the given partial pressure of oxygen at sea level?

songoku said:
Then I do not know how to calculate the pressure at altitude 7000 m. I tried using P = ρgh (taking ρ as density of air = 1.3 kg/m3)
By the time you are seven kilometers up, the air will be remarkably thin. Its mass density will no longer be 1.3 kg/m3. A simple linear pressure reduction formula will already have broken down.

The reduction in pressure going up another 1 meters (for instance) will be proportional to the pressure at the current altitude -- the percentage decrease for each incremental meter is fixed. Ignoring temperature changes with altitude, the pressure decline will be exponential.

It is possible to Google this and get a formula for pressure decline with altitude. Or you could attack the problem from first principles. Or you could incrementally calculate the pressure decrease at 1000 meter increments. Maybe use a spreadsheet to do even smaller increments.

haruspex said:
Umm... why? Isn't the ##21.2\times10^3## the given partial pressure of oxygen at sea level?
I thought it is the total pressure of air dan oxygen is only 20.9 % of this value

jbriggs444 said:
By the time you are seven kilometers up, the air will be remarkably thin. Its mass density will no longer be 1.3 kg/m3. A simple linear pressure reduction formula will already have broken down.

The reduction in pressure going up another 1 meters (for instance) will be proportional to the pressure at the current altitude -- the percentage decrease for each incremental meter is fixed. Ignoring temperature changes with altitude, the pressure decline will be exponential.

It is possible to Google this and get a formula for pressure decline with altitude. Or you could attack the problem from first principles. Or you could incrementally calculate the pressure decrease at 1000 meter increments. Maybe use a spreadsheet to do even smaller increments.
I found out from one of thread here in PF and through google, there is formula called barometric formula:

##P = P_o ~ e^{- \frac{Mgh}{RT}}## where ##M## = molecular mass of oxygen (in this case) and ##T## = temperature of air at height ##h##

Is this the formula I should use? If yes, then:
M = 32 g/mol = 32 x 10-3 kg/mol
g = 9.8 m/s2
h = 7000 m
R = 8.31
T = I do not know

Do I need another formula to determine the temperature at altitude of 7000 m?

Thanks

songoku said:
I thought it is the total pressure of air dan oxygen is only 20.9 % of this value
The question states:
The concentration of oxygen O2 at the atmospheric pressure is 20.9% v/v.
The partial pressure of this concentration is 21.2 kPa.

This is saying that of the 1atm of pressure at sea level, 21.2 kPa is from the oxygen molecules there. Note that this is roughly 20.9% of 1atm.

For the air pressure at 7000m, I would use https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/air-altitude-pressure-d_462.html.

haruspex said:
The question states:
The concentration of oxygen O2 at the atmospheric pressure is 20.9% v/v.
The partial pressure of this concentration is 21.2 kPa.

This is saying that of the 1atm of pressure at sea level, 21.2 kPa is from the oxygen molecules there. Note that this is roughly 20.9% of 1atm.

For the air pressure at 7000m, I would use https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/air-altitude-pressure-d_462.html.

The formula in the link is ##P=P_o~(1-2.25577 ~ \text{x} 10^{-5}~h)^{5.25588}##

Using h = 7000 m, I get P = 8.59 kPa (not in the option given by the question, the closest is 9.33 kPa)

And what is the name of the formula? I want to see the derivation so I understand where all the numbers come from

So I can not use ##P = P_o ~ e^{- \frac{Mgh}{RT}}##?

Thanks

songoku said:
The formula in the link is ##P=P_o~(1-2.25577 ~ \text{x} 10^{-5}~h)^{5.25588}##

Using h = 7000 m, I get P = 8.59 kPa (not in the option given by the question, the closest is 9.33 kPa)

And what is the name of the formula? I want to see the derivation so I understand where all the numbers come from

So I can not use ##P = P_o ~ e^{- \frac{Mgh}{RT}}##?

Thanks
I found another reference, https://www.mide.com/air-pressure-at-altitude-calculator. It does not say what formula it uses, but it gives the same result. (You have to specify a temperature, but it seems to be the sea level temperature.)

I note that for more modest altitudes you could approximate the formula using ##(1-x)^n \approx e^{-nx}##. Using that with the constants in the formula gives about 9.24kPa.

Yes, you could use the other formula, involving the temperature at altitude, but you would have to look up what that would be. It should not give a different result.

Thank you very much for all the help and explanation jbriggs444 and haruspex

To answer this multiple choice question one should not need to look anything up. You should know that roughly half the atmosphere is below 10 km and so the pressure is reduced by 50% at that altitude . Therefore the partial pressure of O2 should be similarly reduced. Answer is B.
If you wish to know details that is fine but not necessary for this question.

songoku and Delta2

## What is the meaning of partial pressure of oxygen at a certain altitude?

The partial pressure of oxygen at a certain altitude refers to the amount of oxygen molecules present in a specific volume of air at that altitude. It is a measure of the concentration of oxygen in the air and is important for understanding the availability of oxygen for breathing at different altitudes.

## How does the partial pressure of oxygen change with increasing altitude?

As altitude increases, the partial pressure of oxygen decreases. This is because the air becomes less dense at higher altitudes, meaning there are fewer oxygen molecules per unit volume. For every 1000 feet increase in altitude, the partial pressure of oxygen decreases by about 10%. This can have significant effects on the body's ability to function, especially during physical activity.

## What is the relationship between partial pressure of oxygen and altitude?

The relationship between partial pressure of oxygen and altitude is inverse. As altitude increases, the partial pressure of oxygen decreases. This is due to the decrease in air density at higher altitudes, resulting in a lower concentration of oxygen molecules in the air.

## How does the partial pressure of oxygen at a certain altitude affect the human body?

The partial pressure of oxygen at a certain altitude can have significant effects on the human body. As the partial pressure of oxygen decreases with increasing altitude, it becomes more difficult for the body to obtain the necessary amount of oxygen for normal functioning. This can lead to altitude sickness, which can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and fatigue.

## How is the partial pressure of oxygen at a certain altitude measured?

The partial pressure of oxygen at a certain altitude can be measured using a device called an altimeter. This device measures the atmospheric pressure, which can then be used to calculate the partial pressure of oxygen. Additionally, specialized equipment can be used to directly measure the partial pressure of oxygen in the air at a specific altitude.

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