In chemistry, concentration is the abundance of a constituent divided by the total volume of a mixture. Several types of mathematical description can be distinguished: mass concentration, molar concentration, number concentration, and volume concentration.[1] The concentration can refer to any kind of chemical mixture, but most frequently refers to solutes and solvents in solutions. The molar (amount) concentration has variants, such as normal concentration and osmotic concentration. Dilution is reduction of concentration, e.g. by adding solvent to a solution. The verb to concentrate means to increase concentration, the opposite of dilute.

Test tubes with liquid in which a blue dye is dissolved in different concentrations. In the test tube with dark blue liquid (in front), the blue dye is dissolved in a high concentration. In the following test tubes, the blue dye is dissolved in a lower concentration (and at the same time in a smaller amount, since the volume is approximately the same). Image is AI generated.

Etymology edit

Concentration-, concentratio, action or an act of coming together at a single place, bringing to a common center, was used in post-classical Latin in 1550 or earlier, similar terms attested in Italian (1589), Spanish (1589), English (1606), French (1632).[2]

Qualitative description edit

 
These glasses containing red dye demonstrate qualitative changes in concentration. The solutions on the left are more dilute, compared to the more concentrated solutions on the right.

Often in informal, non-technical language, concentration is described in a qualitative way, through the use of adjectives such as "dilute" for solutions of relatively low concentration and "concentrated" for solutions of relatively high concentration. To concentrate a solution, one must add more solute (for example, alcohol), or reduce the amount of solvent (for example, water). By contrast, to dilute a solution, one must add more solvent, or reduce the amount of solute. Unless two substances are miscible, there exists a concentration at which no further solute will dissolve in a solution. At this point, the solution is said to be saturated. If additional solute is added to a saturated solution, it will not dissolve, except in certain circumstances, when supersaturation may occur. Instead, phase separation will occur, leading to coexisting phases, either completely separated or mixed as a suspension. The point of saturation depends on many variables, such as ambient temperature and the precise chemical nature of the solvent and solute.

Concentrations are often called levels, reflecting the mental schema of levels on the vertical axis of a graph, which can be high or low (for example, "high serum levels of bilirubin" are concentrations of bilirubin in the blood serum that are greater than normal).

Quantitative notation edit

There are four quantities that describe concentration:

Mass concentration edit

The mass concentration   is defined as the mass of a constituent   divided by the volume of the mixture  :

 

The SI unit is kg/m3 (equal to g/L).

Molar concentration edit

The molar concentration   is defined as the amount of a constituent   (in moles) divided by the volume of the mixture  :

 

The SI unit is mol/m3. However, more commonly the unit mol/L (= mol/dm3) is used.

Number concentration edit

The number concentration   is defined as the number of entities of a constituent   in a mixture divided by the volume of the mixture  :

 

The SI unit is 1/m3.

Volume concentration edit

The volume concentration   (not to be confused with volume fraction[3]) is defined as the volume of a constituent   divided by the volume of the mixture  :

 

Being dimensionless, it is expressed as a number, e.g., 0.18 or 18%; its unit is 1.

There seems to be no standard notation in the English literature. The letter   used here is normative in German literature (see Volumenkonzentration).

Related quantities edit

Several other quantities can be used to describe the composition of a mixture. These should not be called concentrations.[1]

Normality edit

Normality is defined as the molar concentration   divided by an equivalence factor  . Since the definition of the equivalence factor depends on context (which reaction is being studied), the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and National Institute of Standards and Technology discourage the use of normality.

Molality edit

Not to be confused with molarity.

The molality of a solution   is defined as the amount of a constituent   (in moles) divided by the mass of the solvent   (not the mass of the solution):

 

The SI unit for molality is mol/kg.

Mole fraction edit

The mole fraction   is defined as the amount of a constituent   (in moles) divided by the total amount of all constituents in a mixture  :

 

The SI unit is mol/mol. However, the deprecated parts-per notation is often used to describe small mole fractions.

Mole ratio edit

The mole ratio   is defined as the amount of a constituent   divided by the total amount of all other constituents in a mixture:

 

If   is much smaller than  , the mole ratio is almost identical to the mole fraction.

The SI unit is mol/mol. However, the deprecated parts-per notation is often used to describe small mole ratios.

Mass fraction edit

The mass fraction   is the fraction of one substance with mass   to the mass of the total mixture  , defined as:

 

The SI unit is kg/kg. However, the deprecated parts-per notation is often used to describe small mass fractions.

Mass ratio edit

The mass ratio   is defined as the mass of a constituent   divided by the total mass of all other constituents in a mixture:

 

If   is much smaller than  , the mass ratio is almost identical to the mass fraction.

The SI unit is kg/kg. However, the deprecated parts-per notation is often used to describe small mass ratios.

Dependence on volume and temperature edit

Concentration depends on the variation of the volume of the solution with temperature, due mainly to thermal expansion.

Table of concentrations and related quantities edit

Concentration type Symbol Definition SI unit other unit(s)
mass concentration   or     kg/m3 g/100mL (= g/dL)
molar concentration     mol/m3 M (= mol/L)
number concentration     1/m3 1/cm3
volume concentration     m3/m3
Related quantities Symbol Definition SI unit other unit(s)
normality   mol/m3 M (= mol/L)
molality     mol/kg m
mole fraction     mol/mol ppm, ppb, ppt
mole ratio     mol/mol ppm, ppb, ppt
mass fraction     kg/kg ppm, ppb, ppt
mass ratio     kg/kg ppm, ppb, ppt
volume fraction     m3/m3 ppm, ppb, ppt

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version: (2006–) "concentration". doi:10.1351/goldbook.C01222
  2. ^ "concentration". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. ^ IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version: (2006–) "volume fraction". doi:10.1351/goldbook.V06643

External links edit