The Biological Importance of Water

The Biological Importance of Water
Water is made up of 2 basic components, these being Oxygen and Hydrogen. Water has the molecular formula H2O. [water, H2O] [image] We are about two-thirds water and require water to live. Life now, could not have evolved without liquid water and would die without it. For example, droughts cause famines and floods cause death and disease still to this day. Because of its importance, water is the most studied material on Earth. Water in human biology Water is very important as part of the diet of all humans and other living organisms. For humans, 60% of the water we take in comes from drinks, 30% comes from food and the remaining 10% is metabolic water, a product of respiration. Most substances found in the body, dissolve in water except fats and other large polymers such as fibrous proteins. Water is the medium in which substances are transported around the body. This shows how two thirds of the body is made up of water. It is the most important, yet basic substance ever known.
Cohesion This is due to the hydrogen bonds that hold water molecules together. It is very important especially to plants which use the cohesiveness to take water in through the xylem. The cohesiveness gives the water the ?stickiness? or surface tension and basically holds the droplet or droplets, together. This is due to the cohesive forces between the molecules. Cohesion is when water molecules are attracted to other water molecules. Water can also be attracted to other materials, which is called adhesion. The oxygen in water has a negative charge and the hydrogen has a positive charge. The hydrogen in one water molecule is attracted to the oxygen from other water molecules. This attractive force is what gives water its cohesive and adhesive properties. An example of cohesion is when a drop of water lies on a flat surface, it does not break up, it remains whole due to the stickiness of the individual water particles. Polar Molecules Water is a polar molecule. This helps many substances to dissolve in water. Molecules that have ends with partial negative and positive charges are known as polar molecules. It is this polar property that allows water to separate polar solute molecules and explains why water can dissolve so many substances. Water molecules have a weak, partial negative charge at one region of the molecule (the oxygen atom) and a partial positive charge elsewhere (the hydrogen atoms). [image] Therefore, when water molecules are close together, their positive and negative regions are attracted to the oppositely-charged regions of nearby molecules. The force of attraction is called a hydrogen bond. Each water molecule is hydrogen bonded to four others. The hydrogen bonds that form between water molecules account for some of the essential properties of water. ? The attraction created by hydrogen bonds keeps water liquid over a wider range of temperature than is found for any other molecule its size. ? The energy required to break multiple hydrogen bonds causes water to have a high heat of vaporization, which, means a large amount of energy is needed to convert liquid water, where the molecules are ? Attracted through their hydrogen bonds, to water vapour, where they are not. The 3 States of water Water exists in 3 different states, which can be changed using the processes boiling, freezing, melting and condensing. Probably the most important state of water is as a liquid. It is mostly found as a liquid on earth due to the earth?s temperature. Water is a liquid between the temperatures 0oC ? 100oC. [image] At below 0oC, water as a liquid becomes solid or ?ice?. This is because the arrangement of hydrogen bonds between water molecules is more regular than in liquid water. [image] Above 100oC, the liquid water becomes a gas or ?steam?. The atoms become further away and spread out. [image] Water is also essential for life, since it provides the correct medium for the transport of nutrients into, and waste products out of, cells. Water acts as the environment between and around cells through which other molecules can move. One obvious example is blood, which is largely water, and which acts as the transportation system for almost all of the body?s essential chemicals. Water and Heat Water absorbs a lot of heat before it temperature rises. This is due to the inter-molecular forces. Because the hydrogen bonding in water has stronger inter-molecular forces, the heat capacity is higher. This table shows the comparison of waters specific heat capacity against other materials. Substance Specific Heat (cal/g-C) Water 1.00 Aluminum 0.215 Iron 0.108 Gold 0.031 When water is heated to 100oC, additional heat must be applied in order to cause the water to evaporate (form steam). This added heat is called the latent heat of vaporization. This latent heat must also be removed when water vapor condenses. When water is cooled to 0?C, an additional amount of heat must be removed in order to form ice. This additional heat is called the latent heat of fusion. This latent heat must also be added when ice melts. Not only does water have a high specific heat capacity, it is also a good conductor of heat in comparison to air which is useful for many animals in different ways. Water is the medium in which all chemical reactions in the body take place. Blood, which contains 80% water, is vital in transporting oxygen to the tissues and carbon dioxide from the tissues as well as being the life support system for the body. In its major functions, water acts as: ? an ideal lubricant to transport feed; ? an aid in excretion; ? a regulator of body temperature; and ? A buffering agent to regulate pH of body fluids. Water?s properties make it an important factor in the transfer of heat and the regulation of temperature in the body. Because water has a high specific heat it is ideally suited as a temperature buffering system for the body. Animals need a continuous supply of water for maximum efficiency. Because water functions as a lubricant in the transport of feed and aids in the excretion of waste products from the body, the intake must equal the output lost through urine, feces and evaporation otherwise known as sweat. Water also plays a key part in digestion. Water is also essential in plants, mainly in the process photosynthesis which keeps the plant alive and healthy. Water is the most essential of all substances, upon which all life depends.

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