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By Bernard Morrill

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T h e r m o d y n a m i c systems, with respect to the first law, fall into t w o classes: (1) the closed system, (2) open system. The closed system is o n e which is characterized by having energy as heat and/or work cross the b o u n d a r y of the t h e r m o d y n a m i c system. T h e r e is no matter transferred across the b o u n d a r y of the system. The open system is o n e in which matter as well as heat a n d / o r work is transferred across the t h e r m o d y n a m i c b o u n d a r y .

Th is n e t k n o w n and w e cannot express the path connecting the end states with a mathematical e x p r e s sion of the t h e r m o d y n a m i c variables only: Nor can we plot the irreversible path on the thermodynamic plane. In nature, t h e r m o d y n a m i c p r o c e s s e s are not reversible. T h e y are irreversible. S p o n t a n e o u s changes, such as the heat transfer in Section 1-2 describing the equilibrium p r o c e s s of t w o bodies in contact, are irreversible. T h e fact that all real p r o c e s s e s are irreversible does not invalidate the usefulness of the reversibility concept.

12) T h e validity of E q s . 12) is left as an exercise. F o r the record: a reversible adiabatic process is called an isentropic process. T h e r e are other types of reversible processes such as reversible isothermal (constant temperature), reversible isobaric (constant pressure), and isochoric (constant volume). T h e above discussion is valid for any reversible process regardless of the path of the process. It is not always possible to pass a reversible process through t w o points on a t h e r m o d y n a m i c plane.

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