The process of adsorption can occurs in solutions also. This implies that the solid surfaces can also adsorb solutes from solutions. Some clarifying examples are listed below:
(i) When an aqueous solution of ethanoic acid (CH3COOH) is shaken with charcoal. The concentration of acid in the solution is found to decrease because a part of acid is adsorbed by charcoal.
(ii) Litmus solution become colourless when it is shaken with charcoal which indicates that the dye of litmus solution is adsorbed by charcoal.
(iii) Mg(OH)2 is colorless but when it is precipitated in the presence of magneton reagent (a bluish dye) the precipitate acquire blue colour due to adsorption of dye on their surface.
It has also been observed that if we have a solution containing more than one solutes, then the solid adsorbents can adsorb certain solutes in preference to other solutes and solvents. The property is made use of in removing colouring matters from solutions of organic substances. For example, raw sugar solution is decolourised by animal charcoal.
Factors affecting adsorption from solutions
Adsorption from solutions by the solid adsorbents depends on the following factors.
(i) Nature of adsorbent and adsorbate
(ii) Temperature: the extent of adsorption, in general, decreases with rise in the surface area of adsorbent.
(iii) Surface area: the extent adsorption increase with the increase in the surface area of adsorbent.
(iv) Concentration: the effect of concentration on the extent of adsorption isotherm similar to Freundlich adsorption isotherm. The relationship between mass of solute adsorbed per gram (x/m) is given by the following relations:
x/m = kC1/n (n > 1)
Taking logarithm, equation becomes
log x/m = log k + (1/n) log C
A graph between log x/m and log C is a straight line, similar to graph.
Experimental verification of equation can be done by taking equal volume of acetic acid solutions of different concentrations in four different bottles fitted with stoppers. The contents should be well mixed. The concentration of acetic acid is found in each bottle. This concentration refers to equilibrium concentration (c). The difference of original concentration and equilibrium concentration gives the value of amount of acetic acid adsorbed by charcoal (x). log (x/m) values of different plotted against C.