# Chemistry - Can the van der Waals coefficients be negative in the van der Waals equation for real gases?

This question requires a simplistic notion of real gas behavior.

The van der Waals equation was based on the notion that "real" gas particles occupy some volume, and have an attraction to each other. Thus the volume correction $b$ is negative in the equation and the pressure correction, $a$ is positive. The formula is

$$(P + a/V_\mathrm{m}^2)(V_\mathrm{m} -b) = RT$$

If you look at a table of van der Waals constants all the a and b terms are positive. Thus the volume calculated using the van der Waals equation will always be less than the volume calculated using the ideal gas equation.

### The rest of the story...

The van der Waals equation isn't the best equation for corrections, particularly near the critical point for the gas. There are numerous other "real gas equations" which predict gas behavior better. (I'm not sure of what gas and what conditions, but there has to be a gas which has greater volume than would be predicted by ideal gas behavior.)