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The Role of Transport in Chemical Processes

Transport, or transportation, is actually the relocation of people, animals and/or products from one place to another. Simply put, the act of transportation is defined as the total movement of an object or organism from a given point A to a given point B. There are several types of transportation. The most common ones include road transport, air transport and maritime transport. In this article, we discuss only the road transport and maritime transport, since the transportation of objects in these mediums involves slightly different terms.


Freight movement is commonly used by international shipping companies. In simple terms, freight transportation is the transport of items for sale for delivery to the final destination. The modes of transport vary, with some freight moving onshore from one place to another and others on the inland waterways. In most cases, trucks are the most commonly used mode of transport. They can be pulled by hand or by power. There are also trucks that have tracks or wheels attached to the bottom.

Sea transport involves the movement or travel of bulk cargo via ships, riverboats or barges. For the inland movement, rail, road or air transport is the commonly used means of transportation. As for the coastal movement, mostly large scale commercial activities take place along the coastlines, such as dredging, mining, oil exploration and production, fishing, tourism and shipping.

The major components of transport systems are land, sea and air. The land transport systems include trains, trucks, buses, automobiles and even bio-mass transport such as recycling plants. On the other hand, the ocean transportation is made up of ocean going vessels, which are either liners or fishing boats. Some of the most important means of land transport are railways, roadways and highways. Geography is also an important influence in the transportation of goods due to the fact that certain geographical regions experience higher volumes of commerce.

There has been considerable growth in the development of various modes of transport. Transportation is a complex process involving many factors such as economics, population and preferences. Economic activities have a major impact on transport infrastructure. This further leads to the increase in demand for transport infrastructure in certain areas.

The increasing volume of population has led to increased urbanization and growing urban centers. More people require greater quantities of transportation services. Therefore, there is a rise in demand for more efficient and cheaper modes of transportation. The rapid development in technology and business also leads to an expansion in the transportation industry. As a result of this, more new stations, terminals and railroads have been built to meet the growing demand.

Modes of transport have developed since the 19th century. They differ mainly in terms of flexibility, speed, cost, environment and convenience. Air transport and land transport are the two major modes of transport. Both these modes of transport offer flexibility in terms of movement. People prefer rail over any other mode of transport for its speedy movement while land transport can be used for long distances.

Rail transport has the highest density and speed of all the modes of transport as it involves very little movement of molecules. Electron transport occurs through the chemical reaction between an electron and a molecule. The movement of molecules is primarily affected by the temperature, pressure and air speed. Therefore, various gases are used for transportation which influence transportability greatly. Some common gases used in the transportation of molecules are: nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen and oxygen.

However, some gases perform both active and passive transport well. For example, oxygen and carbon dioxide both perform both active and passive transport of molecules. Nitrogen is the only exception in the sense that it performs only passive transport of molecules. Nitrogen molecules are transported in elastic fibres which then become trapped when the pressure inside the fibres is equalized. The trapped molecules are released when the pressure goes down.

Thus, the transport of molecules is largely effected by the concentration gradient. The concentration gradient in a system is the difference in concentration of the molecules present at a point compared to the concentrations of the molecules at other points in the system. Therefore, the rate of transport of molecules also depends on the concentration gradient. A high concentration gradient facilitates the facilitated diffusion of molecules, whereas a low concentration gradient hinders the facilitated diffusion of molecules.

The most important function of the concentration gradient is to maintain a balance between the rates of oxidation and production of chemical energy. The existence of gradients in any system is inevitable. For instance, in photosynthesis, the concentration gradient results in a gradient of glucose in the leafy parts and in the stems. This greatly facilitates photosynthesis since the rate of photosynthesis is determined by the efficiency of the photosynthetic reaction.