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The effect of temperature on rate of osmosis

Wednesday, 4:30 7:15

October 9, 2013
Olivia Mandile, Thomas Aaron

The investigation examined the hypothesis that temperature directly correlates

with rate of osmosis. Cells created using dialysis tubing and starch solution were
placed in 1% iodine solutions of varying temperatures. Three beakers were filled with the
1% iodine solution while only one beaker was filled with water. One beaker was kept on
a hot plate to increase temperature, ice was added to another to decrease temperature,
while the 3rd iodine solution and the water were both kept at room temperature for varied
results. The investigation was controlled using a cell which was placed in the beaker
containing solely water. At 5 minute intervals, the cells were removed from the beakers
and the rate of osmosis was measured, the cells were then placed back in the beakers
for another interval. The results indicate that temperature has little effect on rate of
osmosis, but as the contrary is widely accepted, further testing should be done with
special care to reduce sources of error. Possible sources of error include leaking cells
and too much or too little iodine placed in each solution.

When concentrations of solutes inside the cell differ from concentrations outside
of the cell, diffusion occurs. Solutes pass through the selectively permeable membrane in
order to create equilibrium between the two sides. Not every solute, however, can pass
through the membrane. Only small, nonpolar molecules pass through the membrane
Diffusion of water is called osmosis. Osmosis depends on factors such as
temperature and concentration (Freeman 2014). This investigation used dialysis tubing to
mimic the selectively permeable membrane of the cell. This investigation examined the

hypothesis that temperature directly correlates with rate of osmosis in a cell (Laboratory
Exercises for General Biology 1).

Materials and Methods

Two beakers were filled with 396 mL of water. A third beaker was filled with 200
mL of ice and 196 mL of liquid water. 4 mL of iodine were added to the beakers. A
fourth beaker was filled with 400 mL of water. Dialysis tubing was filled with 2% starch
solution to create a cell. Three cells were created in this manner. A fourth was created
with water only. One beaker was heated to 46 degrees Celsius on a hot plate. The
beaker with ice was 8.5 degrees Celsius. The beaker without iodine and the remaining
beaker were kept at room temperature. The cells were massed and added to the
beakers. Every five minutes for twenty-five minutes, each cell was removed and
massed. The masses were recorded. Rate of diffusion was calculated.
Mass Measured Every Five Minutes
Temperatu Initial
g 10
g 15
g 20
g 25
mass (g)
Fig. 1: The mass of each cell measured every five minutes for twenty-five minutes
Rate Of Osmosis

Fig. 2: the rate of osmosis in g/min for each beaker

Masses Every Five Minutes

Fig. 3: The masses, measured every five minutes, of cells in various beakers.
Results were obtained by measuring the mass of each cell prior to submerging it
in a beaker, then measuring the mass of each after five minutes for twenty-five minutes.
The rate of osmosis was calculated with the following equation: (gfinalg

The lab focused on the effect of temperature on the rate of osmosis. The
expectations were that temperature has a direct effect on osmosis with cold water
diffusing slower and hot water diffusing more rapidly. The hypothesis formed for the
experiment went unsupported by the data collected. According to Fig. 2, the room
temperature water had a higher rate of diffusion than the hot water, though were the
hypothesis supported, the hot water would have had the highest rate of diffusion. The
rates of osmosis were all precise, ranging from -0.004 g/ min to 0.008 g/ min. Thus,
based on the results, temperature had little to no effect that could be seen on the rate of

There were some sources of error including a leak in the ice water cell that could
have contributed to the failure of the hypothesis. Another source of error was that the
concentrations of the solutions inside and outside of the cells differed (the starch solution
was 2%, while the iodine solution was 1%). This may have affected the rate of osmosis.
Though the hypothesis went unsupported by the data, past studies on the effect of
temperature on osmosis support the hypothesis that higher temperatures increase the rate
of osmosis. In an article by the Department of Chemical Engineers at the University of
Bahrain, a positive relationship between temperature and rate of osmosis was proposed.
Al-Bastaki and Al-Qahtan studied salt passage through a semi-permeable membrane,
finding that an increase in temperature led to an increase in salt passage (Al-Bastaki NM,
Al-Qahtan, HI 1994). In a study by Magee, Hassaballah, and Murphy, it was proposed
that the ideal temperature for osmosis was 50 C (Magee TRA, Hassaballah AA, Murphy
WR, 1983).
The data gathered in the lab refutes the hypothesis that an increase in temperature
will lead to an increase in rate of osmosis. The room temperature water had a higher rate
of osmosis than the hot water. The ice water data could not be interpreted due to the leak
in the cell, which caused a negative rate of osmosis (see fig. 2). However, other studies
on the subject suggest that higher temperatures cause higher rates of osmosis.

Biology 281 Conceptual Approach Bio Majors 1. Laboratory Exercises for General
Biology 1. Plymouth: Hayden-McNeil Publishing, 2013. Print
Al-Bastaki, N.M., Al-Qahtan, H.I. 1994. Assessment of thermal effects on the reverse
osmosis of salt/water solutions by using a spiral wound polyamide membrane.
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Freeman, Scott, et al. Biological Science: Fifth Edition. 2014; Pearson. Page 92.
Magee, T.R.A., Hassaballah , A.A., Murphy, W.R. 1983. Internal Mass Transfer During
Osmotic Dehydration of Apple Slices in Sugar Solutions. Irish Journal of Food
Science and Technology. Volume 7, Issue 2. Pages 147 155.