Factors affecting the Rate of Diffusion: Diffusion is a process resulting from the random motion of molecules in a solution where the particles are moved from high concentration to low concentration. Several factors determine the rate of diffusion of a solute including the mass of solute, the temperature of the environment, the solvent density, concentration, and solubility.
Factors affecting the Rate of Diffusion
- Difference in concentration gradient: The greater the concentration gradient, the quicker diffusion takes place. For example, if there is a very high concentration of oxygen in the alveoli, and a very low concentration in the blood, diffusion will take place very quickly. However, if there is an almost equal concentration in both, the rate of diffusion will be very low.
- Temperature: As the temperature increases, particles gain more kinetic energy and so can diffuse across a membrane more quickly. Therefore, as the temperature increases, the rate of diffusion increases.
- The surface area of the membrane: As the surface area of the membrane increases, the rate of diffusion also increases, as there is more space for molecules to diffuse across the membrane.
- Distance: The shorter the distance the substances have to move, the faster the rate of diffusion.
- Solubility: Non-polar or liquid soluble materials pass through the plasma membrane, the rate of diffusion more than polar substances.
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