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Old 09-11-2011, 12:56 PM   #21
Aug 2010
McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
Posts: 9,446
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No, material moves from phases with high chemical potential to those with lower chemical potential for that same species. Thus if you have pure water on one side of a membrane permeable to water and water with stuff dissolved in it on the other the chemical potential of water on the solution side will be lower and water will pass through the membrane in order to dilute the solution thus raising the chemical potential of water in the solution. As water moves in to dilute the solution the level in the container on the solution side of the membrane will rise as the volume increases. This increases pressure across the membrane which in turn changes the chemical potential. The process increases until the chemical potential of water is the same on both sides of the membrane. The osmotic pressure is the pressure (in this case hydrostatic head) which causes the chemical potentials to come into balance. This is, of course, a very much simplified case relative to what goes on in a living cell but the fundamental principal is the same.

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