Thermodynamics FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) o What is Thermodynamics? o What are the F
Thermodynamics FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Organization: Auburn University Engineering
From: henley@eng.auburn.edu (James Paul Henley)
o What is Thermodynamics?
o What are the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics?
o How are the Laws of Thermodynamics applied to various systems?
o Does Snowflake formation violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

o What is Thermodynamics?
"Thermodynamics is defined as the study of energy, its forms and
transformations, and the interactions of energy with matter." [1, p.5]
Energy can exist in a number of forms, electrical energy, chemical energy,
potential energy, kinetic energy, PV energy, mechanical energy, etc. In
order to apply the laws of thermodynamics mathematically, which is the
only way to "prove" anything, you must have a definition of energy that
is consistent with the laws of Thermo. The Laws of Thermo describe
the Laws by which transformations in energy must abide. They have never
been shown false, and they have been demonstrated so thoroughly, that
they are not considered theories, but laws. The field of engineering
is based largely on these laws, and in most fields of engineering*,
proposed processes must first be shown to satisfy these laws to merit
furthur consideration. In chemical engineering, they are necessary criteria
for chemical reaction equilibria.
* At Auburn University, all departments in the Engineering School except
Computer Science require their students to take EGR 201  Introductory
Thermodynamics. Applications of the Laws of Thermodynamics can be
demonstrated in every field of engineering represented, including
Agricultural Engineering.
W : Work  Energy transfer due to a force acting against a resistance. In
most general sense, work can be described as change.
Q : Heat Transfer  one of three different types of energy transfer:
1) Conduction
2) Convection
3) Radiation
Enthalpy is a convenient property defined in terms of internal energy,
pressure, and volume:
H = U + PV
H : enthalpy
U : internal energy
P : pressure
V : volume
Gibbs energy is a measure of the amount of energy available to do work
(ie. to effect a change) in chemical processes. To determine Gibbs energy
we take the enthalpy, and subtract out the disordered energy, ie. the energy
that is not available to do work:
G = H  TS
G : Gibbs free energy
S : entropy
T : temperature
So, what is entropy?
Entropy is a measure of the disorder of the energy of a system. Ordered
energy is available to do work, disordered energy is not. So, mathematically
we see that entropy*temperature is the amount of disordered energy at that
temperature.
One criterion for chemical equilibruim in a closed system is that the total
Gibbs free enery must be at a minimum, which means that entropy must be at a
maximum.

o What are the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics?
The first law is generally stated in terms of a closed system, also called
a control mass. So an auxiliary law is the conservation of mass:
THE LAW OF THE CONSERVATION OF MASS
"The mass of a control mass never changes." [1, p.120]
THE FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS
For a Closed system (control mass)
"A change of the total energy (kinetic, potential, and internal) is equal
to the work done on the control mass plus the heat transfer to the control
mass." [1, p.121]
"Although energy assumes many forms, the total quantity of energy is
constant, and when energy dissapears in one form, it appears simultaneously
in other forms." [2, p.22]
E2  E1 = 1Q2 + 1W2
E2 : energy of the system at state 1
E1 : energy of the system at state 2
1Q2: the net heat transfer into the system in going from state 1 to state 2
1W2: the net work done on the system in going from state 1 to state 2
[1, p.121]
"Equililibrium is a word denoting a static condition, the absence of change.
In thermodynamics it is taken to mean not only the absence of change, but
the absence of any tendency toward change on a macroscopic scale. Thus
a system at equilibrium is one which exists under such conditions that
there is no tendency for a change in state to occur." [2, p.37]
For an Open system: (control volume)
rate of change of energy = energy flow rate in  energy flow rate out
Control Volume : A system fixed in space which permits mass to cross the
system boundaries. [1, p.130]
. . . .
d~Ecv/d~t = Ein  Eout + Qcv + W
d~ : partial derivative
Ecv : Total energy of the control volume
. .
Ein, Eout : Energy flow rate in and out, across crossing boundaries (Energy
. flux at crossing boundaries)
Qcv : Net rate of heat transfer into system across inside boudaries. (heat
. flux)
W : Net rate of work done on system by surroundings (power)
[1, p.133]
Steady State: Implies that conditions at all points in the [system]* are
constant with time. For this to be the case, all rates must
be constant, and there must be no accumulation of material
or energy within the [system] over the period of time
considered. [2, 30]
* lit. apparatus. For a control volume analysis, each component of the
apparatus is considered an open system (control volume).
The apparatus as a whole is actually a closed system.
A point in the system would be represented by a
particular location in the apparatus.
For a cyclical process in a closed system, a point
in the system would be represented by a periodic time
in the cycle.
Pseudo steady state is a condition in which it is convenient to assume
steady state for portions of a nonsteady state system.
THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS:
"The entropy S, an extensive* equilibrium property, must always increase
or remain constant for an isolated system**. [1, p.187]
dSi >= 0
dSi : change in entropy of an isolated system**
* The units of extensive entropy are energy divided by temperature. The units
of the intensive property would be energy divided by temperature and mass,
or divided by temperature and moles.
In SI units:
S (the extensive property) has units: J/K
s (the intensive property) has units: J/(kg K) or J/(kg mole K)
**An isolated system is one in which there is no mass or energy transfer
across system boundaries. (see How do the Laws...Apply to Various Systems)
In terms of a nonisolated system:
dSsys + dSsur >= 0 or alternately: dSu >= 0
dSsys : change in entropy of system
dSsur : change in entropy of surroundings
dSu : change in entropy of universe
Entropy generation within a system is due to friction. In the absence of any
friction, then the net entropy change is 0. Friction here includes things
like
electical resistance, resistance to heat transfer, resistance to chemical
reactions (inverse of rate constant), mechanical friction, air resistance,
etc.
For any real process, there is friction. Entropy is transferred with heat
transfer, and the direction of entropy transfer is the same as that of heat
transfer. So, any time heat is transferred into the system, the entropy of the
system increases. Any time heat is transferred out of the system,
the entropy of the system decreases. Heat transfer out is the only
means of decreasing system entropy of a closed system. For an open system,
entropy can be transferred out with energy transfer out, and with mass
transfer
out.
So, any real process increases the entropy of the system + surroundings,
but whether the entropy of the system itself increases or decreases is
dependent on the heat transfer.
Since for an isolated system, there is no heat transfer, there is no
means of reducing the entropy of the system. Which means that for any
real process in an isolated system, the entropy of the system increases,
and the energy available to do work decreases.
Equilibrium, the state in which all properties stop changing, is defined
by the second law as is the state of maximum entropy, that is, there is no
more energy available to do work, and no capacity for change.
In terms of cyclic process:
"It is impossible by a cyclic process to convert the heat absorbed by a
system completely into work." [2, p.139]
"The word cyclic requires that the system be restored periodically
to its original state." [2, p.139]
In terms of a cyclic process, there are two implications here:
1) Some of the heat in the system is unavailable to do work in restoring
the system to its original state.
2) In order to achieve a steady state cycle, there must necessarily be
some energy lost, ie. not available to do work. This would mean
a continuous input and output of energy is necessary to drive a
continuous cycle.
Attempts have been made to invent devices called perpetual motion machines.
There are two classes of perpetual motion machines called PMM1 and PMM2.
PMM1  "A perpetual motion machine of the first kind is a continuously
operating device that produces a continuous supply of energy without
receiving energy input." [1, p.159]
PMM2  "An engine that, operating continously, will produce no effect other
than the extraction of heat from a single reservoir, and the
performance of an equivalent amount of work." [1, p.246]
A PMM1 violates the First Law because it has more energy output than input.
A PMM2 violates the Second Law, because it allows a complete conversion of
heat energy into work. In order to operate, an engine must have a heat
sink. In a steady state cycle, entropy generation must be offset by heat
transfer to the heat sink. This is why it is impossible to convert all
of the heat input into work  some of that heat must necessarily be lost
to the heat sink.

o How are the Laws of Thermodynamics applied to various systems?
System  that part of the universe set apart for examination. [1, p.33]
Surroundings  that part of the universe which strongly interacts with the
system under study. [1, p.33]
Universe  the totality of matter that exists. [1, p.33]
This definition does not include energy that exists apart from matter. For
example, radiation in space. Pure energy, apart from matter, is not
measureable. This is somewhat like the uncertainty principle. In order to
measure energy, you must first allow it to interact with matter, and then you
measure the effect on the matter. But once you have done that, it is no
longer pure energy, so you can't be certain that what you are measuring is
accurate for pure energy. For example, the speed of light. We must depend
on the interaction of light with matter to measure the speed, but in so doing,
we are no longer measuring light *apart from* matter, but rather measuring the
effect of light *on* matter. By this definition of the universe, pure energy
exists in another dimension  outside of the spacetime continuum that we call
the universe. It is only when energy interacts with matter that it enters the
universe. This gives us a clue about the nature of entropy  anytime energy
interacts with matter, some of that energy is transferred to the matter, and
some of that energy becomes disordered.
(note to RobD  Is matter the ten thousand things of which Lao Tzu spoke?
And is pure energy the Tao? )
System Boundary  the surface that separates the system from its surroundings.
[1, p.34]
Inside Boundary  the part of the boundary impervious to mass flow. [1, p.35]
Crossing Boundary  the part of the boundary at which mass enters and
leaves the system. [1, p.35]
Closed system, or Control Mass, which means that the mass of the system is
constant, and mass is not allowed to cross the system boundaries.
Open System  a system in which mass is allowed to cross the system
boundaries.
In actuality, there are very few truly closed systems. Take a balloon  we
know that the air inside is slowly diffusing through the walls of the balloon,
and given sufficient time the balloon will deflate. What we have to do is
make an approximation. If we are studying effects of heat transfer on the
properties in the balloon, then the rate of mass transfer across the boundaries
is negligible, and we can use a closed system as a good approximation.
Take the earth  we know that gas molecules can occasionally escape into space,
meteors occasionally shower down into the atmosphere, and space missions leave
the earth. So in the strictest sense, the earth is an open system. But if
we study the rate of overall energy transfer, and compare that with the rate
of transfer due to matter entering and leaving, then for all practical
purposes the earth is currently a closed system, because the effect on the
overall energy balance is negligible. If we take the upper reaches of the
atmosphere as the system boundary, then we can also say that the system
has a fixed boundary. In effect, we are really saying that a balloon is a
model of the earth  for the purpose of thermodynamic analyses.
Two different forms of the Laws of Thermo are used for open and for closed
systems. One consideration in an open system is the fact that energy
can be transferred across the system boundaries due to intrinsic energy
of the mass that is transferred.
There are a number of different types of closed systems:
Diabatic  allowing heat transfer across sytem boundaries
Adiabatic  not allowing heat transfer across system boundaries. (insulated
thermally)
Insulated System (electrically)  a System in which electrical work cannot
cross the system boundaries
Rigid System  a System in which the boundaries are fixed, ie. not allowing
mechanical work to cross the system boundaries.
Isolated system  a closed system that allows neither mass nor energy
transfer across system boundaries.

o Does Snowflake formation violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics?
A forming snowflake is an open system. There is mass transfer across the
boundary. If snowflake formation causes a reduction in the entropy
of the snowflake, then, by the second law, the entropy change of the
surroundings must increase.
What about the order of the snowflake? A snowflake indeed appears to have
a high degree of order, but remember, we are talking about ordered energy.
Ordered energy is energy that is available to do work. Once a snowflake
forms, it doesn't do any work, it just slowly drifts down to the ground and
then just sits there, melts, or sublimates. A snowflake has a pattern, but
that pattern is static, and is *not* ordered energy available to do work.
Snow has a remarkable ability to resist change. Unmelted snowflakes will
not readily bond to each other, snow has a very poor ballistic coefficient
which prevents snowflakes from accumulating any significant kinetic energy
when they fall. Snow does not readily absorb radiation or heat energy.
Snow is chemically inert compared to water in other states. At the
macroscopic level, since snowflakes are unique, we would have to say that
the pattern of snowflakes is highly disordered  otherwise we should see
large numbers of identical patterns.
[1] _Fundamentals_of_Engineering_Thermodynamics_, Howell and Buckius,
McGrawHill, 1987
[2] _Introduction_to_Chemical_Engineering_Thermodynamics_, _Fourth_Edition_,
Smith and van Ness, McGrawHill, 1987
[3] _Classical_Thermodynamics_of_Nonelectrolyte_Solutions_, van Ness and
Abbott, McGrawHill, 1982
James P. Henley Jr.
Chemical Engineering Dept.
Auburn University

Ilye Prigogine, who won the nobel prize in chemistry in 1977
proved all that is required to create order in a nonequilibrium
system is an influx of energy.
EMail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank
