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×28th May 2019 @ 5 min read

The ideal gas constant is also known as the universal gas constant or the molar gas constant or simply the gas constant. It is a very important constant in chemistry and physics. It is denoted as *R*. The dimension of the gas constant is expressed in energy per unit mole per unit temperature. The value of the gas constant in SI unit is 8.314 J mol^{−1} K^{−1}. The gas constant has the same unit as of entropy and molar heat capacity.

The origin of the symbol *R* for the ideal gas constant is still obscure. Some say the symbol for the gas constant is named in honour of French chemist Henri Regnault. He is known for his work on measurements of thermal properties of gases.

The ideal gas constant is the proportionality constant in the ideal gas equation. It is the ratio of the product of pressure and volume to the product of mole and temperature.

The formula of the gas constant from the ideal gas law equation is

where *P* is the pressure of an ideal gas,*V* is the volume the gas occupies,*n* is the number of moles of the gas,

and the *T* is the temperature in the kelvin.

The SI unit of the ideal gas constant can be determined as:

The SI unit of pressure is Pa or N m^{−2}.

Now, N m is the equivalent to the joule, which is the SI unit of energy.

At STP (*P* = 101 325 Pa, *T* = 273.15 K), the molar volume or volume per mole is 22.414 × 10^{−3} m^{3} mol^{−1}. Therefore, we can calculate the value of *R* as

This is an approximate value of the ideal gas constant.

With the 26^{th} General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), the revised and exact value of the gas constant is 8.314 462 618 153 24 J mol^{−1} K^{−1}.

The value of *R* in different units is presented in the table below.

Value | Unit |
---|---|

8.314 462 618 153 24 | J mol^{−1} K^{−1} |

8 314.462 618 153 24 | J kmol ^{−1} K^{−1} |

8.314 462 618 153 24 × 10^{7} | erg mol^{−1} K^{−1} |

8.314 462 618 153 24 × 10^{3} | amu m^{2} s^{−}^{2} K^{−1} |

8.205 733 8(47) × 10^{−5} | m^{3} atm mol^{−1} K^{−1} |

0.082 057 338(47) | L atm mol^{−1} K^{−1} |

1.987 203 6(11) | cal mol^{−1}K^{−1} |

62.363 577(36) | mmHg L mol^{−1} K^{−1} |

62.363 577(36) | torr L mol^{−1} K^{−1} |

1 545.348 96(3) | ft lb_{f} lbmol^{−1} K^{−1} |

1.985 88 | Btu lbmol^{−1}R^{−1} |

998.970 1(17) | ft^{3} mmHg lbmol^{−1}K^{−1} |

10.731 59(2) | ft^{3} psi lbmol^{−1} R^{−1} |

The specific gas constant is a version of the ideal gas constant in mass form instead of molar form. It is defined as the ratio of the ideal gas constant to the molar gas of the gas. It has the dimension of the energy per unit mass per unit absolute temperature. The SI unit is J kg^{−1} K^{−1}. It is denoted as *R*_{sp}.

where *M*_{w} is the molar mass or molecular weight of the gas.

The molecular weight of hydrogen gas is 2 g mol^{−1}. So, *R*_{sp} for hydrogen is calculated as:

Similarly, for air of molecular weight of 28.84 g mol^{−1}.

Also, the specific gas constant is found in Mayer's relation.

where *c _{p}* is the specific gas constant at constant pressure, and

The specific gas constant is very useful in engineering applications of thermodynamics.

The ideal gas constant and the Boltzmann constant (*k*_{B}) are related by Avogadro's constant (*N*_{A}). The Boltzmann constant is the ratio of the ideal gas constant to the Avogadro's constant.

Using equation ,

where *m* is the mass per molecule of the gas.

Apart from the above equations, the gas constant is also found in many other important equations of chemistry. Some of these equations are discussed below.

The Nernst equation is an equation in electrochemistry that relates the potential of an electrochemical reaction to the standard electrode potential. The equation is named after German chemist Walther Nernst. For an electrochemical half-cell, the Nernst equation is

where:*E*_{red} is the reduced potential of the half-cell at temperature *T*,*E*^{⊖}_{red} is the standard potential of the half-cell,*α*_{red} and *α*_{ox} are activities of reduced and oxidised species,

and *z* and *F* are the number of electrons transferred and the Faraday constant.

The Arrhenius equation is an important equation use in chemical kinetics. It is used to determine the rate constant *k*.

where *A* is the Arrhenius constant and *E*_{a} is the activation energy.

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