William Henry English chemist Formulated Henrys Laws

William Henry – developer of Henry’s law

Article On William Henry

Biography & contributions

William Henry was a British chemist born on December 12, 1775 – died on September 02, 1836. Henry was notable for formulation of Henry's law in the year of 1803.In 1808 Henry was awarded with the Copley Medal. Henry worked for about 20 years on the analysis of inflammable mixtures of gases.

His best-known papers deal with

  • Gas-analysis
  • Fire-damp
  • Illuminating gas
  • Composition of hydrochloric acid and of ammonia
  • Urinary and other morbid concretions
  • Disinfecting powers of heat


Firedamp is a highly flammable gas, it burns with a pale blue non-luminous flame, and is explosive over the range 5.5% to 14.6%. Firedamp presence is detected by means of the flame safety lamp, on the lowered flame of which appears a non-luminous gas cap, the shape and size being indicative of the percentage present.

Firedamp is flammable gas found in coal mines. It is the name given to a number of flammable gases, especially methane. It is particularly commonly found in areas where the coal is bituminous. Firedamp is not a poisonous gas, but it can cause asphyxia by reducing the normal oxygen content of the mine atmosphere.

Henry’s law

Henry's Law states that the mass of a gas which will dissolve into a solution is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas above the solution.

p = kH c

Henry’s law in daily life

An everyday example of Henry's law is given by carbonated soft drinks. Before the bottle or can of carbonated drink is opened, the gas above the drink is almost pure carbon dioxide at a pressure slightly higher than atmospheric pressure.

The drink itself contains dissolved carbon dioxide. When the bottle or can is opened, some of this gas escapes, giving the characteristic hiss (or "pop" in the case of a sparkling wine bottle).

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