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Chemical Affinity and Solution


IN 1878 I read a paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in which I stated my opinion, based on the results of a considerable number of experiments, that chemical combination solution and suspension of solids, such as clay, in water differ in degree only, and are manifestations of the same force; and that there seems to be a regular gradation of chemical attraction from that exhibited in the suspension of clay in water up to that exhibited in the attraction of sulphuric acid for water, which we call chemical affinity. Further, I stated that the attraction of chemical affinity is not, in all cases, at any rate, exhausted when a definite compound is formed, but has sufficient power left to form solution or suspension compounds. In 1881 I read another paper on chemical affinity and atomicity, in which I went a step further, and endeavoured to show that the theory of valency as usually held was incorrect in assuming chemical affinity to act in units or bonds, and insufficient to account for the various phenomena of varying atomicity, or valency, molecular compounds, crystallisation, solution, alloys, &c., and that all these varied phenomena were simply due to the chemical affinity of the elementary atoms, and that the difficulties disappeared if we got rid of the idea of the indivisible units of chemical affinity, and considered it as a whole acting all round, and spreading out, so to speak.


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DURHAM, W. Chemical Affinity and Solution . Nature 33, 615–617 (1886).

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