Case 1 The Teakettle and the Randomization of Heat

We know that steam generated from boiling water can do useful work. But suppose we turn off the burner under a teakettle full of water at 100 °C (the "system") in the kitchen (the "surroundings") and allow the teakettle to cool. As it cools, no work is done, but heat passes from the teakettle to the surroundings, raising the temperature of the surroundings (the kitchen) by an infinitesimally small amount until complete equilibrium is attained. At this point all parts of the teakettle and the kitchen are at precisely the same temperature. The free energy that was once concentrated in the teakettle of hot water at 100 °C, potentially capable of doing work, has disappeared. Its equivalent in heat energy is still present in the teakettle + kitchen (i.e., the "universe") but has become completely randomized throughout. This energy is no longer available to do work because there is no temperature differential within the kitchen. Moreover, the increase in entropy of the kitchen (the surroundings) is irreversible. We know from everyday experience that heat never spontaneously passes back from the kitchen into the teakettle to raise the temperature of the water to 100 °C again.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Diabetes 2

Diabetes 2

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment