Understanding Pressure

Concept: Pressure vs. Force 

Video Transcript

Welcome back guys. In this new video we're going to take a look at pressure, exactly what is pressure and what causes pressure. So, we're going to say that pressure is just defined as the force exerted per unit of a surface area, on the right side we have a container, inside of this container is we have these black balls, we're going to say these black balls represent individual gas particles and we're going to say that from these black balls we have arrows pointing in different directions, those arrows are basically showing us the direction that the gas particles are taking, gases move in a linear fashion, they move in a straight line and so they're going to be moving in this container bouncing everywhere, bouncing off one another and bouncing off the walls of the container, the pressure that the container has the total pressure inside is the result of each of these gas particles hitting the walls of the container, that's what it is, pressure equals the force the impact that these gas particles are doing on the walls inside of the container, that's all pressure is. So, we're going to say pressure is the force of collisions, the force of each one of these gas particles, hitting the walls of the container adding them up and dividing it by the total area inside of the container, that's what pressure really is, and we're going to say here that the SI unit for pressure, when we talk about pressure, is the Pascal, and we're going to say the units for the Pascal are newtons over meters squared. Now, we're going to say the SI unit of force is the Newton. So, this capital n that we talked about just a second ago, and we're going to say the units for the Newton are kilograms times meters over seconds squared. So, just remember those two SI units, that can easily be a theory question as your professor asks you.

Concept: The different units for Pressure

Video Transcript

Despite the fact that the SI unit for pressure is Pascal, chemist all around the world continue to use different units for pressure, because they're just accustomed to it. The Pascal is the SI unit for pressure, but most of the time, you'll see in your books and in different types of research journals from chemists and scientists, they instead like to use atmospheres, torrs or millimeters of mercury. Sometimes you might see bars as well. The Pascal is the SI unit but they tend to like to use these other types of units for pressure.
Now, here we have the different names for pressure. All of these are just different types of pressure, basically different units for it. They're all saying the same thing. An atmosphere is a unit of pressure just like a torr is, just like a bar is, just like kilopascal is. It's going to be important that you know how to convert from one to the other.
It's a long list, but the ones that professor usually focus on the most are: atmospheres, millimeters of mercury, torrs and bars. Those are usually the ones that we see the most, and, of course, Pascals.
Just realize all of them are equal to one another, so we can say that 760 torrs are equal to 1.01325 bars. You could say that one atmosphere is equal to this many Pascals. All these units are in agreement with one another. They all equal one another. We're going to say that one atmosphere equals 760 millimeters of mercury or 760 torrs.
What I also want you to see is that just look at these two right here, the millimeters of mercury and the torrs, they both have the same number, so 760 millimeters of mercury equals 760 torrs. What this really means is that for every one millimeter -- what this means is for every one millimeter of mercury, we have one torr. They're basically the same units.
Just remember that what the SI units for pressure are, what are the SI units for force, what is pressure defined as and then the connections between the different units for pressure because when it comes to gases, we have to remember this because pressure plays a very large role in the property that a gas has. 

Although the SI unit for pressure is the Pascal, most professors use atm, mmHg or torrs as the everyday units for pressure. 


Example: A geochemist heats a limestone (CaCO3) sample and collects the CO2 released in an evacuated flask. The CO2 pressure is 278.1 mmHg. Calculate the CO2 pressure in torrs and atmospheres.


The conversion of units of pressure is simply a dimensional analysis question. Recall the dimensional analysis relationships been volume and length.  

Problem: If the barometer in a laboratory reads 34.2 inHg what is the pressure in bars? (1 in = 2.54 cm)


Pressure Additional Practice Problems

Samples containing equal numbers of moles of H 2, N2, O2, and He are placed into separate 1 L containers at the same temperature. Assuming each gas behaves ideally, which container has the highest pressure?

a. H2

b. N2

c. O2

d. He

e. All the gases would all exhibit the same pressure.

Watch Solution

Which of the following indicates the greatest pressure?

a. 1 atm

b. 777 torr

c. 5.5 mm Hg

d. 1000 Pa

e. 12 psi

Watch Solution

On a flight to Europe, you notice that the packages of peanuts are puffed up. Why?

1. The peanuts have greater velocities at high altitudes, thus causing the peanuts to exert more force on the packaging.

2. The jet is over-pressurized at high altitudes, thus causing the gas inside the packages to expand.

3. The air in the jet is approximately ten times hotter than on the ground, thus increasing the temperature of the gas in the packages.

4. The packages are puffed up on the ground due to overinflation with helium. This type of packaging provides extra buoyancy for aircrafts.

5. They were packaged at a higher pressure on the ground, thus causing the gas inside the packages to expand in the sky where the jet is at a lower pressure.

Watch Solution

All carbonated beverages are bottled under pressure because____________________

A) if the pressure is increased, the solubility of the gas will increase.

B) this will avoid the external contamination during the storage process.

C) if the pressure is increased, the solubility of the gas will decrease.

D) the pressure is necessary to keep the gas above the solution.

E) the temperature changes constantly but the gas will remain with the same solubility.

Watch Solution

Superman can squeeze graphite (coal) to such a high pressure that it is transformed to diamond. Let’s consider this claim against the underlying science. The phase diagram for carbon is shown below. 

What pressure does Superman need to exert to change graphite into diamond at room temperature?

Watch Solution

Which of the following is  NOT a unit for pressure?

A) Pa        

B) mmHg       

C) atm            

D) torr            

E) liter

Watch Solution

According to the kinetic molecular theory, the pressure of a gas in a container decreases if the     

A) number of collisions with the container wall increases.

B) temperature of the gas increases.

C) another ideal gas is added to the container but volume is kept constant.

D) volume of the container increases.

Watch Solution

Convert 1.50 atm to torr.

A) 760 torr

B) 875 torr

C) 1140 torr

D) 1000 torr

E) 1520 torr

Watch Solution

Convert 1.50 atm to torr.

A) 760 torr

B) 875 torr

C) 1140 torr

D) 1000 torr

E) 1520 torr

Watch Solution

The pressure exerted by a gas is caused by 

a) collisions of the gas molecules with the container. 

b) the density of the gas molecules. 

c) the temperature of the gas molecules. 

d) intermolecular forces. 

e) the volume that the gas molecules occupy. 

Watch Solution

The pressure of a sample of gas describes:


A) the speed of the gas molecules

B) the number of gas molecules

C) the number of gas molecules in a set volume

D) the force of gas molecules hitting the surface

E) the mass of the gas molecules

Watch Solution