Difference Between Absorption and Adsorption (With Table)

The events that occur at interfaces or surfaces are the focus of surface chemistry. A hyphen or a slash separates the bulk phases at the interface or surface. For example, solid/gas or solid/gas can depict the interaction between solids and gaseous. Because the gases are miscible, there is no contact between them.

Pure substances or solutions may be found in surface chemistry. Erosion, electrochemical processes, hydrolysis, and crystallization are just a few of the key phenomena that occur at interfaces. Both adsorption and absorption are types of sorption processes.

Absorption vs Adsorption

The main difference between absorption and adsorption is that absorption occurs when a liquid or solid dissolves a fluid. Adsorption, conversely, is the adhesion of molecules, particles, or compounds from a material to the adsorbent’s surface.

Absorption vs Adsorption

Absorption can occur either with or without energy use (diffusion). Several factors influence absorption, including particle sizes, particle density, and the quantity of emitted photons.

Adsorption arises as a result of interfacial area, with attaching assisted by either Van der Wall’s force or chemical bonding, due to the nature of the substance being tested. Stress, heat, contact surfaces, and potential interactions between the adsorbate and adsorbent can all affect adsorption.

Comparison Table Between Absorption and Adsorption

DefinitionThis is a process wherein one component (protons and neutrons, ions, or compounds) is taken up through or consumed by another substance, most commonly in solid or liquid form.Substances such as gases, fluids, or volatile solids cling to the top of some other object, which might be solids or aqueous.
Reaction time rateThe absorption process begins and continues at the same pace until all of the absorbates have been dissolved in the absorbent.The adsorption rate grows steadily until a level is achieved, at which point it ceases.
ConcentrationsIt produces a consistent concentration. The adsorbate concentration in the absorbent is uniform at the end of the absorption process.It leads to the development of non-uniform concentration. Because there is no dissolving and no bulk action, the levels of adsorbate and adsorbent vary.
Process typeAbsorption is an energy-input endothermic process. The absorbate’s energy is supplied to the power of the absorbing system, raising the total energy.It is an exothermic process, meaning it produces heat. As adsorbate molecules build on the adsorbent’s surface, the process becomes more stable, resulting in a decrease in energy.
The phenomenon’s classificationThis is a widespread phenomenon.This is a surface occurrence.

What is Absorption?

Absorption is the process by which one compound joins the density or large volume of another. Instead of any forces acting on molecules, the solid easily absorbs the liquids or gases.

Absorbate refers to the substance that is absorbed, while absorbent refers to the substance that absorbs. Absorption can be either chemical or physical. A substance absorbs and transforms energy as part of the absorption process.

Absorption Types:

  1. Physical absorption- When an atom or molecule adsorbs, its electronic structure is slightly altered. When oxygen in the atmosphere dissolves in water, for example, it is a non-reactive process.
  2. Chemical absorption, also known as reactive absorption, results from a chemical interaction between the absorbed and absorbing substances. It occasionally mixes with physical absorption.

A wide range of living and non-living processes use absorption. To obtain moisture and nutrients, living systems such as single-celled organisms depend heavily on the absorption phenomenon. Absorption is used in non-living system applications such as refrigeration systems to store cold.

What is Adsorption?

Adsorption is the process of a substance’s molecules adhering to the liquid surface or solid. The material absorbed on a surface is known as an adsorbate, while the substance that is adsorbed on is known as an adsorbent.

The interaction is the surface on which the process occurs. Adsorption is caused by surface energy.

Adsorption occurs in a wide range of living and non-living things. Adsorption is how life forms, such as viral infections, adhere to bacteria or other microorganisms. Adsorbent chromatography, for example, separates mixtures using the concept of adsorption.

The absorption process has numerous industrial applications. For example, using waste heat, non-homogenous photocatalysts, carbon cloth, and catching and supplying chilled water for air conditioners.

Adsorption Types:

  1. Physical adsorption, or physisorption, occurs when the sum of attractive and repulsive forces between molecules and electrostatic forces binds gas molecules.
  2. Chemical adsorption, chemisorption, occurs when gas molecules form a chemical bond with the surface.

Main Differences Between Absorption and Adsorption

  1. An absorbent spreads the substance it catches throughout the structure, whereas an adsorbent distributes it on the surface.
  2. Absorbing materials may be split into distinct phases depending on the biochemical mechanisms of the phases; they can be divided into separate phases. On the other hand, adsorbed materials can be separated by passing a fresh substance through the adsorbent’s interface and substituting the formerly adsorbed substance.
  3. In absorption, materials are taken into an absorbent depending on the provided space and particle composition. Substances are absorbed onto an adsorbent’s surface because the adsorbent includes unoccupied areas that enhance particle attachment.
  4. Depending on the chemical interactions with the phases, absorbent substances can be sorted into various phases. On the other hand, adsorbed materials could be detached by moving a fresh substance across the adsorbent’s surface, replacing the previously adsorbed item.
  5. The temperature and pressure do not affect absorption. Adsorption, on the other hand, is a temperature-reliant process.


The processes of absorption and adsorption are distinct. Both absorption and adsorption are thermodynamic phenomena in which a small amount of one material enters or becomes linked to a larger amount of another substance.

The amalgamation of the molecules across most of the liquid and the solid substrate is referred to as absorption. Adsorption, conversely, is the concentration of biomolecules at the bottom of a solid to a liquid.


  1. https://aaqr.org/articles/aaqr-12-05-ir-0132
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926860X06003814

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