Differentiate between physical and chemical adsorption?


Adsorption is a process which involves the accumulation of a substance in molecular species in higher concentration on the surface.  For the adsorption process, two components are required,

  • Adsorbate: Substance that is deposited on the surface of another substance. For example, H2, N2 and O2 gases.
  • Adsorbent: Surface of a substance on which adsorbate adsorbs. For example, Charcoal, Silica gel, Alumina.

The difference between physical and chemical adsorption are tabulated below.

Physical adsorption Chemical Adsorption
This type of adsorption is also known as physisorption. This type of adsorption is also known as chemisorption.
It is due to weak Van der Waals forces between adsorbate and adsorbent.  It is due to strong chemical forces of bonding type between adsorbate and adsorbent.
This adsorption is a multi-layered process. This type of adsorption is almost a single-layered phenomenon.
Surface area, temperature, pressure, nature of adsorbate effects physisorption Surface area, temperature, nature of adsorbate effects chemisorption.
Examples: H2 and N2 gases adsorb on coconut charcoal Examples:  Charcoal, Silica gel, Alumina.


Was this answer helpful?


4.5 (7)

Upvote (10)

Choose An Option That Best Describes Your Problem

Thank you. Your Feedback will Help us Serve you better.


Free Class