DIALYSIS (from the Gr. Sat, through, X15av, to loosen), in chemistry, a process invented by Thomas Graham for separating colloidal and crystalline substances. He found that solutions could be divided into two classes according to their action upon a porous diaphragm such as parchment. If a solution, say of salt, be placed in a drum provided with a parchment bottom, termed a "dialyser," and the drum and its contents placed in a larger vessel of water, the salt will pass through the membrane. If the salt solution be replaced by one of glue, gelatin or gum, it will be found that the membrane is impermeable to these solutes. To the first class Graham gave the name "crystalloids," and to the second "colloids." This method is particularly effective in the preparation of silicic acid. By adding hydrochloric acid to a dilute solution of an alkaline silicate, no precipitate will fall and the solution will contain hydrochloric acid, an alkaline chloride, and silicic acid. If the solution be transferred to a dialyser, the hydrochloric acid and alkaline chloride will pass through the parchment, while the silicic acid will be retained.
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