When osmotic pressure across an artificial membrane, produced by a permeable electrically neutral solute on one side of it, is balanced by an external pressure difference so that there is no net volume flow across the membrane, it has been found that there will be a net flux of a second electrically neutral tracer solute, present at equal concentrations on either side of the membrane, in the direction that the "osmotic" solute diffuses. This has been ascribed to solute-solute interaction or drag between the tracer and the osmotic solutes. An alternative model, presented here, considers the membrane to have pores of different sizes. Under general assumptions, this "heteroporous" model will account for both the direction of net tracer flux and the observed linear dependence of unidirectional tracer fluxes on the concentration of the osmotic solute. The expressions for the fluxes of solutes and solvent are mathematically identical under the two models. An inequality is derived which must be valid if the solute interaction model and/or the heteroporous model can account for the data. If the inequality does not hold, then the heteroporous model alone cannot explain the data. It was found that the inequality holds for most published observations except when dextran is the osmotic solute.

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