The Full Wiki

Combined gas law: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The combined gas law is a gas law which combines Charles's law, Boyle's law, and Gay-Lussac's law. These laws each relate one thermodynamic variable to another mathematically while holding everything else constant. Charles' law states that volume and temperature are directly proportional to each other as long as pressure is held constant. Boyle's law asserts that pressure and volume are inversely proportional to each other at fixed temperature. Finally, Gay-Lussac's law introduces a direct proportionality between temperature and pressure as long as it is at a constant volume. The inter-dependence of these variables is shown in the combined gas law, which clearly states that:

The ratio between the pressure-volume product and the temperature of a system remains constant.

This can be stated mathematically as

 \qquad \frac {pV}{T}= k


p is the pressure
V is the volume
T is the temperature measured in kelvins
k is a constant (with units of energy divided by temperature).

For comparing the same substance under two different sets of conditions, the law can be written as:

 \qquad \frac {p_1V_1}{T_1}= \frac {p_2V_2}{T_2}

The addition of Avogadro's law to the combined gas law yields the ideal gas law.


Derivation from the Gas Laws

Boyle's Law states that the pressure-volume product is constant:

PV = k_1 \qquad (1)

Charles' Law shows that the volume is proportional to absolute temperature:

V = k_2T \qquad (2)

Gay-Lussac's Law says that the pressure is proportional to the absolute temperature:

P = k_3T \qquad (3)

where P is the pressure, V the volume and T the absolute temperature and of an ideal gas.

By combining (1) and either of (2) or (3) we can gain a new equation with P, V and T. Equation (2) is used in this example, and the arbitrary subscript on the constant is dropped so that k = k2.
PV = k_2T \Rightarrow \frac{PV}{T} = k

Substituting in Avogadro's Law yields the ideal gas equation.

Physical Derivation

A derivation of the combined gas law using only elementary algebra can contain surprises. For example, starting from the three empirical laws

 P = k_v\, T \,\! ............(1) Gay-Lussac's Law, volume assumed constant
 V = k_p T \,\! ............(2) Charles' Law, pressure assumed constant
 P V = k_t \,\! ............(3) Boyle's Law, termperature assumed constant

where kv, kp, and kt are the constants, one can multiply the three together to obtain

 PVPV = k_v T k_p T k_t \,\!

Taking the square root of both sides and dividing by T appears to produce the desired result

 \frac {PV}{T} = \sqrt{k_p k_v k_t} \,\!

However, if before applying the above procedure, one merely rearranges the terms in Boyle's Law, kt = P V, then after canceling and rearranging, one obtains

 \frac{k_t}{k_v k_p} = T^2 \,\!

which is not very helpful if not misleading.

A physical derivation, longer but more reliable, begins by realizing that the constant volume parameter in Gay-Lussac's law will change as the system volume changes. At constant volume V1 the law might appear P = k1 T while at constant volume V2 it might appear P= k2 T . Denoting this "variable constant volume" by kv(V), rewrite the law as

 P = k_v(V) \,T \,\! ............(4)

The same consideration applies to the constant in Charles' law which may rewritten

 V = k_p(P) \,T \,\! ............(5)

In seeking to find kv(V), one should not unthinkingly eliminate T between (4) and (5) since P is varying in the former while it is assumed constant in the latter. Rather it should first be determined in what sense these equations are compatible with one another. To gain insight into this, recall that any two variables determine the third. Choosing P and V to be independent we picture the T values forming a surface above the PV plane. A definite V0 and P0 define a T0, a point on that surface. Substituting these values in (4) and (5), and rearranging yields

 T_0 = \frac{P_0}{k_v(V_0)} \quad and \quad T_0 = \frac{V_0}{k_p(P_0)}

Since these both describe what is happening at the same point on the surface the two numeric expressions can be equated and rearranged

 \frac{k_v(V_0)}{k_p(P_0)} = \frac{P_0}{V_0}\,\!............(6)

The kv(V0) and kp(P0)are the slopes of orthogonal lines through that surface point. Their ratio depends only on P0 / V0 at that point.

Note that the functional form of (6) did not depend on the particular point chosen. The same formula would have arisen for any other combination of P and V values. Therefore one can write

 \frac{k_v(V)}{k_p(P)} = \frac{P}{V} \quad\forall P, \forall V............(7)

This says each point on the surface has it own pair of orthogonal lines through it, with their slope ratio depending only on that point. Whereas (6) is a relation between specific slopes and variable values, (7) is a relation beween slope functions and function variables. It holds true for any point on the surface, i.e. for any and all combinations of P and V values. To solve this equation for the function kv(V) first separate the variables, V on the left and P on the right.

 V\,k_v(V) = P\,k_p(P)

Choose any volume P1. the right side evaluates to some arbitrary value, call it karb.

 V\,k_v(V) = k_{\text{arb}} ............(8)

This particular equation must now hold true, not just for one value of V but for all values of V. The only definition of kv(V) that guarantees this for all V and arbitrary karb is

 k_v(V) = \frac{k_{\text{arb}}}{V} ............(9)

which may be verified by substitution in (8).

Finally substituting (9) in Gay-Lussac's law (4) and rearranging produces the combined gas law

 \frac{PV}{T} = k_{\text{arb}} \,\!

Note that Boyle's law was not used in this derivation but is easily deduced from the result. Generally any two of the three starting laws are all that is needed in this type of derivation - all starting pairs lead to the same combined gas law. [1].


The combined gas law can be used to explain the mechanics where pressure, temperature, and volume are affected. For example:air conditioners, refrigerators and the formation of clouds.


  1. ^ A similar derivation, one starting from Boyle's law, may be found in Raff, pp.14-15


  • Raff, Lionel. Principles of Physical Chemistry. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall 2001


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address