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  • State the expressions of the second law of thermodynamics.
  • Calculate the efficiency and carbon dioxide emission of a coal-fired electricity plant, using second law characteristics.
  • Describe and define the Otto cycle.
Photograph of melting ice floes in the Arctic.
These ice floes melt during the Arctic summer. Some of them refreeze in the winter, but the second law of thermodynamics predicts that it would be extremely unlikely for the water molecules contained in these particular floes to reform the distinctive alligator-like shape they formed when the picture was taken in the summer of 2009. (credit: Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Geological Survey)

The second law of thermodynamics deals with the direction taken by spontaneous processes. Many processes occur spontaneously in one direction only—that is, they are irreversible, under a given set of conditions. Although irreversibility is seen in day-to-day life—a broken glass does not resume its original state, for instance—complete irreversibility is a statistical statement that cannot be seen during the lifetime of the universe. More precisely, an irreversible process    is one that depends on path. If the process can go in only one direction, then the reverse path differs fundamentally and the process cannot be reversible. For example, as noted in the previous section, heat involves the transfer of energy from higher to lower temperature. A cold object in contact with a hot one never gets colder, transferring heat to the hot object and making it hotter. Furthermore, mechanical energy, such as kinetic energy, can be completely converted to thermal energy by friction, but the reverse is impossible. A hot stationary object never spontaneously cools off and starts moving. Yet another example is the expansion of a puff of gas introduced into one corner of a vacuum chamber. The gas expands to fill the chamber, but it never regroups in the corner. The random motion of the gas molecules could take them all back to the corner, but this is never observed to happen. (See [link] .)

Part a of the figure shows spontaneous heat transfers. A rectangular section is divided down the center, and then marked hot on the left end and cold on the right. Heat Q is shown to flow from the hot end to the cold end as shown by a bold arrow toward the right. Part b of the figure shows a car moving on a horizontal road toward the right with initial velocity v. The car brake is applied after some time. The final velocity v sub f is shown equal to zero. Heat is released by the car. Part c of the figure shows two parts. The first part shows a burst of gas let into a vacuum chamber using a sprayer. The molecules of gas are shown to move in a random manner shown as dashed zigzag arrows. The second part of the same diagram shows the next stage after the air burst is sprayed. The molecules of air are shown to be arranged in uniform distribution as shown by horizontal, parallel dashed curves in the medium.
Examples of one-way processes in nature. (a) Heat transfer occurs spontaneously from hot to cold and not from cold to hot. (b) The brakes of this car convert its kinetic energy to heat transfer to the environment. The reverse process is impossible. (c) The burst of gas let into this vacuum chamber quickly expands to uniformly fill every part of the chamber. The random motions of the gas molecules will never return them to the corner.

The fact that certain processes never occur suggests that there is a law forbidding them to occur. The first law of thermodynamics would allow them to occur—none of those processes violate conservation of energy. The law that forbids these processes is called the second law of thermodynamics. We shall see that the second law can be stated in many ways that may seem different, but which in fact are equivalent. Like all natural laws, the second law of thermodynamics gives insights into nature, and its several statements imply that it is broadly applicable, fundamentally affecting many apparently disparate processes.

Questions & Answers

what is torque
Deepak Reply
what there factors affect the surface tension of a liquid
Promise Reply
formula for impedance
muyiwa Reply
ehat is central forces
Nita Reply
what is distance?
Jonathan Reply
What does mean ohms law imply
Victoria Reply
ohms law state that the electricity passing through a metallic conductor is directly proportional to the potential difference across its end
what is matter
folajin Reply
Anything that occupies space
Any thing that has weight and occupies space
Anything which we can feel by any of our 5 sense organs
what is a sulphate
any answers
the time rate of increase in velocity is called
Blessing Reply
What is uniform velocity
Greetings,users of that wonderful app.
Frank Reply
how to solve pressure?
Cruz Reply
how do we calculate weight and eara eg an elefant that weight 2000kg has four fits or legs search of surface eara is 0.1m2(1metre square) incontact with the ground=10m2(g =10m2)
can someone derive the formula a little bit deeper?
what is coplanar force?
forces acting and lying on d same plane
what is accuracy and precision
Peace Reply
How does a current follow?
Vineeta Reply
which one dc or ac current.
how does a current following?
AC current
AC current follows due to changing electric field and magnetic field.
you guys are just saying follow is flow not follow please
ok bro thanks
but i wanted to understand him/her in his own language
but I think the statement is written in English not any other language
my mean that in which form he/she written this,will understand better in this form, i write.
ok thanks bro. my mistake
u are welcome
what is a semiconductor
Vineeta Reply
substances having lower forbidden gap between valence band and conduction band
what is a conductor?
replace lower by higher only
convert 56°c to kelvin
How does a current follow?
A semiconductor is any material whose conduction lies between that of a conductor and an insulator.
what is Atom? what is molecules? what is ions?
Abubakar Reply
atoms are the smallest unit of an element which is capable of behaving as a single unit
a molecule is d smallest unit of a substances capable of independent existence and can also retain the chemical proper ties of that substance
an ion is referred to as freely moving charged particles
Practice Key Terms 4

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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