Dalton's law(redirected from Dalton's law of partial pressure)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
Dalton's law[for John DaltonDalton, John
, 1766–1844, English scientist. He revived the atomic theory (see atom), which he formulated in the first volume of his New System of Chemical Philosophy (2 vol., 1808–27).
..... Click the link for more information. ], physical law that states that the total pressure exerted by a homogeneous mixture of gases is equal to the sum of the partial pressures of the individual gases. The partial pressure of a gas is the pressure it would exert if all the other gases in the mixture were absent.
The total pressure of a mixture of gases is the sum of the partial pressures of each gas in the mixture. The law was established by John Dalton (1766–1844). In his original formulation, the partial pressure of a gas is the pressure of the gas if it alone occupied the container at the same temperature. Dalton's law may be expressed as P = PA + PB + · · ·, where PJ is the partial pressure of the gas J, and P is the total pressure of the mixture; this formulation is strictly valid only for mixtures of ideal gases. For real gases, the total pressure is not the sum of the partial pressures (except in the limit of zero pressure) because of interactions between the molecules.
In modern physical chemistry the partial pressure is defined as PJ = xJP, where xJ is the mole fraction of the gas J, the ratio of its amount in moles to the total number of moles of gas molecules present in the mixture. With this definition, the total pressure of a mixture of any kind of gases is the sum of their partial pressures. However, only for an ideal gas is the partial pressure (as defined here) the pressure that the gas would exert if it alone occupied the container. See Kinetic theory of matter, Thermodynamic principles