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Adsorption vs. Desorption: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on December 22, 2023
Adsorption is the process where molecules adhere to a surface, while desorption is the reverse, where molecules detach from a surface.

Key Differences

Adsorption is a surface phenomenon where atoms, ions, or molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid adhere to a surface. This process creates a film of the adsorbate (the molecules or atoms being accumulated) on the adsorbent's surface. Desorption, in contrast, is the process where adsorbed substances are released from the adsorbent's surface, effectively reversing adsorption.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023
The process of adsorption is generally spontaneous and exothermic, reflecting its nature of lowering the system's energy. It involves various forces, like Van der Waals forces or chemical bonds. Desorption, on the other hand, may require energy input to overcome these forces and release the adsorbed material, making it an endothermic reaction in many cases.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023
Adsorption often occurs when a solid surface is exposed to a concentration of particles or gases, leading to a build-up of material on its surface. This process is crucial in applications like filtration, where impurities are adsorbed onto filter materials. Conversely, desorption is a key step in processes like chromatography, where it helps in separating and analyzing compounds.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2023
The rate and extent of adsorption depend on factors like temperature, pressure, and the nature of the adsorbent and adsorbate. Higher temperatures often reduce the extent of adsorption. In desorption, increasing temperature usually facilitates the detachment of molecules, as it provides the necessary energy for overcoming adsorptive forces.
Harlon Moss
Dec 22, 2023
Adsorption can be classified into physisorption (involving weak Van der Waals forces) and chemisorption (involving stronger chemical bonds). Desorption, accordingly, can be physical or chemical, determined by the nature of the forces involved in the initial adsorption process.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Accumulation of particles on a surface
Release of particles from a surface
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Energy Nature

Usually exothermic (releases heat)
Usually endothermic (absorbs heat)
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Process Dependency

Depends on pressure, temperature, nature of adsorbent/adsorbate
Depends on energy input, nature of the bond between adsorbent and adsorbate
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Industrial Application

Used in filtration, purification
Used in chromatography, regeneration of adsorbents
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Types

Physisorption, Chemisorption
Physical Desorption, Chemical Desorption
Harlon Moss
Dec 22, 2023
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Adsorption and Desorption Definitions

Adsorption

Adsorption is the adhesion of atoms, ions, or molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface.
The adsorption of contaminants onto activated carbon filters purifies water.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

Desorption is the process where adsorbed material is released from a surface.
During desorption, pollutants trapped in water filters are removed for filter regeneration.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 30, 2023

Adsorption

Adsorption is the process of a substance concentrating at the interface of two phases.
The adsorption of light particles on heavy oil spills aids in environmental cleanup.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

It involves removing a substance from a surface to which it has been adsorbed.
Desorption of chemicals from sensor surfaces is essential in resetting electronic noses.
Harlon Moss
Nov 30, 2023

Adsorption

It's a surface-based process where material accumulates on a solid or liquid surface.
Adsorption of dyes on fabric fibers is crucial in textile coloring.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

Desorption is the opposite of adsorption, where molecules detach instead of attaching.
In chromatography, desorption helps in separating different compounds.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 30, 2023

Adsorption

It refers to the binding of molecules or particles to a surface.
The adsorption of enzymes onto solid supports is used in industrial biocatalysis.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

Desorption refers to breaking the bond between an adsorbate and an adsorbent.
Desorption of oxygen molecules from catalyst surfaces is crucial in chemical reactions.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Adsorption

Adsorption involves the creation of a film of adsorbate on the adsorbent surface.
In gas masks, the adsorption of toxic gases on charcoal layers protects the wearer.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

It's the release of an adsorbate from an adsorbent surface.
Thermal desorption releases volatile compounds from solid samples in analysis.
Harlon Moss
Nov 30, 2023

Adsorption

The accumulation of gases, liquids, or solutes on the surface of a solid or liquid.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

To release (something) through pores or interstices.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Adsorption

The adhesion of a liquid or gas on the surface of a solid material, forming a thin film on the surface.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

To remove (an absorbed or adsorbed substance) from.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Adsorption

The process by which molecules of a substance form a thin film on the surface of a solid. Distinguished from absorption, in which the foreign substance penetrates the body of the absorbing material.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

The process in which atomic or molecular species leave the surface of a solid and escape into the surroundings; the reverse of absorption or adsorption.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Adsorption

The accumulation of molecules of a gas to form a thin film on the surface of a solid
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

Desorption

Changing from an adsorbed state on a surface to a gaseous or liquid state
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 30, 2023

FAQs

What triggers adsorption?

Adsorption occurs due to various forces like Van der Waals forces or chemical bonds.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2023

What is needed for desorption to occur?

Desorption often requires energy input to overcome the forces holding the adsorbate.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

What industries use adsorption?

Industries like water treatment, air purification, and chemical processing use adsorption.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Is desorption always desirable in industrial processes?

It depends on the application. In some cases, like filter regeneration, it's essential.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

How does temperature affect adsorption?

Generally, increasing temperature decreases the extent of adsorption.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Can desorption be a natural process?

Yes, it can occur naturally, especially when conditions change, like a rise in temperature.
Harlon Moss
Dec 22, 2023

Can all materials that adsorb also desorb?

In most cases, yes, but the ease of desorption depends on the strength of the adsorption bond.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

What is adsorption?

Adsorption is the process where molecules adhere to a surface.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

What is desorption?

Desorption is the process where molecules detach from a surface.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 22, 2023

Can adsorption be selective?

Yes, certain adsorbents are selective to specific adsorbates.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Is adsorption a physical or chemical process?

It can be both, physisorption (physical) involves weak forces, while chemisorption (chemical) involves stronger bonds.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

What factors influence the rate of adsorption?

Factors like surface area of the adsorbent, concentration of the adsorbate, and temperature.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 22, 2023

Can adsorption be used for purification?

Yes, it's widely used for purifying gases and liquids.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 22, 2023

What role does desorption play in chromatography?

Desorption allows the separation of different compounds in chromatography.
Harlon Moss
Dec 22, 2023

Does adsorption require energy?

Generally, adsorption releases energy (exothermic).
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Do adsorption and desorption always occur together?

Not always simultaneously, but they are complementary processes.
Harlon Moss
Dec 22, 2023

Can desorption be controlled?

Yes, by adjusting parameters like temperature and pressure.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 22, 2023

Are there environmental applications of adsorption?

Yes, in areas like air purification and spill cleanup.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Is desorption always an endothermic process?

Mostly, as it often requires energy to release the adsorbed material.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023

Are adsorption and desorption reversible processes?

They can be, particularly in cases where the adsorption is physical rather than chemical.
Janet White
Dec 22, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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