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The gas kinetic theory for a monatomic ideal gas defines the relationship that allows you to calculate the mean free path λ as a function of temperature T, pressure P and the collision diameter σ (equal to twice the particle’s radius, assumed spherical) as follows

λ = kB·T / ( 2½·π·σ²·P )

where kB is Boltzmann’s constant (kB = 1,381·10⁻²³J/K).
The relation shows that the mean free path strongly depends on the sigma value (because it is squared). In other words it depends on the size and therefore the type of atom.
Taking as reference the smallest atom existing in nature, the hydrogen, and adopting a sigma value equal to twice its Van der Waals’s radius (2·120pm = 240·10⁻¹²m), a temperature of 300K (about 27°C or 80°F) and a pressure of 1bar=100˙000Pa the mean free path is equal to

λH,300K,100000Pa = 1,6·10⁻⁷m = 1,6·10⁻⁴mm = 0,16μm

Since the mean free path is inversely proportional to the pressure, if the pressure decreases by 10 times, the mean free path increases tenfold. Of course, when the pressure assumes the 1Pa=0,01mbar the mean free path increases by 100˙000 times and it becomes equal to

λH,300K,1Pa = 0,016m = 16mm

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Questo sito non rappresenta una testata giornalistica e viene aggiornato senza alcuna periodicità, esclusivamente sulla base della disponibilità di materiale sugli argomenti trattati. Pertanto, non può considerarsi prodotto editoriale sottoposto alla disciplina di cui all'art. 1, comma III della Legge n. 62 del 7.03.2001 e leggi successive.