Curriculum Guideline

Physical Chemistry

Effective Date:
Course Code
CHEM 2310
Physical Chemistry
Science & Technology
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture 4 hours / week Laboratory 3 hours/ week
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will be presented using lectures, problem sessions and class discussions.  Films and other audio-visual material will be used where appropriate.  Problems will be assigned on a regular basis and handed in for evaluation.  In the laboratory, experiments will be performed individually or by pairs of students and reports submitted for evaluation.

Course Description
This course introduces the study of chemical thermodynamics and is intended for students majoring in science. Topics include the First Law of Thermodynamics and thermochemistry, entropy, Gibbs energy, chemical equilibrium, phases, and solutions. The laboratory stresses physical methods in inorganic chemistry.
Course Content

Introduction and Review

S.I. units; mathematical review, use of calculators and computers in physical chemistry.

The Nature of Physical Chemistry and the Behavior of Gases

Definitions, energy, review of the properties of ideal gases: absolute temperature scale, kinetic theory of gases, collision frequency, collision number and mean free path; real gases: compressibility factor, deviations from ideal gas behaviour, real gas isotherms, van der Waal’s equation, other equations of state, critical phenomena, continuity of states.

The First Law of Thermodynamics

Definitions, P-V work, expansion of an ideal gas, heat, heat capacity, latent heat, path dependent functions, statements of the first law, constant V processes, Cv, enthalpy, Cp, reversible processes, wrev, adiabatic and isothermal processes, heat capacities of ideal monatomic and diatomic gases.

Application of the First Law: Thermochemistry

Standard states, measurement of ?H, calorimetry, relationship between ?U and ?H, temperature dependence of ?H, enthalpies of formation, bond strengths.

The Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics

Carnot cycle, efficiency of heat engines, entropy, calculation of ?S, temperature and volume dependence of S, molecular interpretation of S; the Third Law and absolute entropies.

The Gibbs Energy

Gibbs and Helmholtz functions, Gibbs energies of formation, pressure and temperature dependence of ?G, fugacity, thermodynamic limits to energy conversion.

Chemical Equilibrium

Thermodynamic equilibrium constant, Kc,Kp, calculations involving equilibrium in homogeneous and heterogeneous systems, degree of dissociation, temperature dependence of K.

Phases and Solutions

Phase equilibria in one-component systems, Clapeyron, and Clausius-Clapeyron equations; ideal solutions: Raoult’s and Henry’s Laws, partial molar properties, chemical potential, thermodynamics of mixing; nonideal solutions: activity and activity coefficients; review of colligative properties: ?Tf, ?Tb, ?P, and osmotic pressure.

Laboratory Content

The following experiments will be performed during the laboratory period.

  1. Gravimetric Analysis: Determination of Aluminum
  2. Preparation and Analysis of a Coordination Compound
  3. Solution Calorimetry
  4. The Bomb Calorimeter
  5. Determination of Al3+, Ni2+ and Fe3+ by Ion Exchange
  6. Determination of Iron in Multivitamin Tablets by Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy
  7. Volumetric Analysis of Household Bleach
  8. Thermodynamic Study of a Donor-Acceptor Complex
  9. Vapour pressure of a Liquid
Learning Outcomes

With the aid of tables of thermodynamic data, a periodic table, an equation sheet and a calculator the student will be able to:

  1. solve problems of the following types:
  • ideal gas law and equations of state for non-ideal gases
  • First Law problems involving gases (ideal and real)
  • thermochemical problems (e.g., finding ?U, ?q and w for a given chemical or physical change)
  • entropy changes in physical and chemical changes
  • calculation and use of thermodynamic equilibrium constants at various temperatures and pressures for homogeneous and heterogeneous equilibria
  • calculation of Gibbs and Helmholtz energy changes for physical and chemical processes
  • application of thermodynamics to solutions (eg. Raoult’s Law, chemical potential, mixing, activities and colligative properties)
  • give mathematical and written statements of the first, second, and third laws of thermodynamics
  • define or explain any of the terms used in the course (eg. State function, reversible process)
  • given the balanced equation for a reaction, predict whether the reaction is spontaneous or not.
  • derive some of the simpler equations used in the course (eg. W = - ? PexdV).
  • explain the molecular interpretation of a given thermodynamic function (e.g. entropy, internal energy)
  • draw and interpret the phase diagram of a one component system, or a two component system involving two volatile components.
  • explain or interpret a given chemical or physical process using thermodynamic arguments.
  • Means of Assessment

    Lecture Material (70%)

    • Two in-class tests will be given during the semester, each worth 15%
    • A final comprehensive examination will be given during the exam period (30%)
    • Problems will be assigned on a regular basis to be handed in and marked (10%)

    Laboratory (30%)

    • Nine experiments will be performed during the semester and the grade for this portion of the course will be based on (a) the accuracy of the results and/or (b) the written report of each experiment.
    Textbook Materials

    Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:

    Text:  Laidler, K.J., Meiser, J.H., and Sancturary, B.C. Physical Chemistry 4th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company 2003.

    Douglas College, Chemistry 310 Laboratory Manual, 2003/2004


    CHEM 1210 ( C or better) and MATH 1120

    Which Prerequisite