Ravela Da Cruz


Compressibility Study Guide

Compressibility is the ability to reduce the size of something when pressure is applied. Gasses are most compressible because the distance between their constituent atoms/molecules is maximum.


Do you know that the gas cylinder supplied to your homes contains compressed natural gas? What is compression? What does it do to the gas? But if we are going to use natural gas in the end, what is the need to compress it? Let’s find answers to these questions!


Compressibility is the ability of something to reduce its size or volume by application of pressure.

gases Source

  • Imagine molecules or atoms of the gas as free-flowing.
  • The distance between atoms or molecules of a gas is very large, and they are very far from each other.
  • According to the kinetic theory of gasses, at room temperature and pressure, the average distance between the molecules of a gas is ten times greater than the actual diameter of an atom/molecule of gas.
  • When we apply pressure, the atoms/molecules start to come closer, their gap decreases, and the volume decreases too.
  • Something which can be compressed is called compressible.

Why Are Gasses Compressible But Not Solids And Liquids?

Compressibility depends on intermolecular distance, that is, the distance between particles. If the distance between particles is large, then that state of matter can be compressed.

For example, in the gaseous state of matter, the distance between atoms or molecules is quite large as there is enough gap. When pressure is applied to gas, the constituent atoms or molecules come closer, and thus, the volume decreases, which we call compression.

But in the case of liquid, the gaps are very less, and in the case of solids, gaps are the least. So, it is very difficult to compress the liquid, and solids are incompressible

compress Source

Daily Life Examples Of Compressibility

1. The LPG cylinder:

Natural gas is used as a fuel, but the gas occupies a lot of volume, and for that, we’ll require huge tanks or cylinders. But that is impractical. So, natural gas is compressed first and then supplied as the storage becomes easy.

2. Shaving Cream:

When shaving cream is present inside the can, the cream is a mixture of soap and water, which is compressed in the form of gas.

3. Pump:

Using a pump that contains compressed gas, a bicycle tire can be inflated.

4. Oxygen cylinders:

Oxygen is kept in compressed form in cylinders that are used in hospitals and also in tanks used for scuba diving.

5. Welding:

Cylinders used for welding contain a mixture of acetylene and oxygen in compressed form, which gives out the hot flame on burning as required for welding.


  • Compressibility is the ability of something to reduce its size or volume by application of pressure.
  • Compressibility depends on the distance between particles. That is why gases are most compressible.


1. What is compressibility?

Compressibility is the ability of something to reduce its size or volume by application of pressure.

2. Out of gases, solids, and liquids, which is most compressible?

Gases are most compressible as the distance between atoms/molecules is very large.

3. LPG cylinders contain compressed natural gas. Is this statement right or wrong?

Right, LPG cylinders contain compressed natural gas.

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  1. Compressibility: https://www.ck12.org/c/chemistry/compressibility/lesson/Compressibility-CHEM/. Accessed 5th March 2022.