Thermodynamics Essay

This essay has a total of 955 words and 4 pages.

Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is the branch of science concerned with the nature of heat and its
conversion to any form of energy. In thermodynamics, both the thermodynamic system and its
environment are considered. A thermodynamic system, in general, is defined by its volume,
pressure, temperature, and chemical make-up. In general, the environment will contain heat
sources with unlimited heat capacity allowing it to give and receive heat without changing
its temperature. Whenever the conditions change, the thermodynamic system will respond by
changing its state; the temperature, volume, pressure, or chemical make-up will adjust
accordingly in order to reach its original state of equilibrium. There are three laws of
thermodynamics in which the changing system can follow in order to return to equilibrium.


In order for a system to gain energy the surroundings have to supply it, and visa versa
when the system looses energy the surroundings must gain it. As the energy is transferred
it can be converted form its original form to another as the transfer takes place, but the
energy will never be created or destroyed. The first law of thermodynamics, also known as
the law of conservation of energy, basically restates that energy can't be destroyed or
created "as follows: the total energy of the universe is a constant." All around the
conservation of energy is applied. When gasoline burns in the engine of a car, an equal
amount of work and heat appear as the energy is released. The heat from the engine warms
its surroundings, the cars parts, the air, and the passenger area. The heat energy is
converted into the electrical energy of the radio, chemical energy of the battery, and
radiant energy of the lights. The change in the sum of all of the energies formed from the
burnt gasoline would be equal to the "…change in energy between the reactants and
products." Biological processes, like photosynthesis, also follow energy conservation. The
green plants convert the radiant energy emitted by the Sun into useful chemical energy,
such as the oxygen that we breathe. The energy transferred between any surroundings and
any system can be in the form of various types of work, chemical, mechanical, radiant,
electrical, or heat.


The second law of thermodynamics is expressed as a cycle that "all processes occur
spontaneously in the direction that increases the entropy of the universe (system plus
surrounding)." Entropy, the number of ways the components of a system can be rearranged
without changing the system, plays a major roll in the second law of thermodynamics. This
law was derived from the Carnot Cycle. Carnot observed that the "…flow of heat from
higher to lower temperatures" motivates steam engines, like the flow of a steam turns the
mill wheel. His key insight demonstrated that the world was always active, whenever there
is an energy disruption that is out of equilibrium the "thermodynamic force" of the world
will spontaneously act to bring the system back to equilibrium or to keep the disruption
to a minimum. All changes seem to be motivated by this law. Unlike the first law, the
second law changes and motivates change in all real world processes and expresses time,
where as in the first law there is no time, there is nothing to distinguish past, present,
and future. The second law, with its "one way flow" or cycle, allows for the possibility
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