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Thermal irreversibility demystified
International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat and Fluid Flow, Volume: 33, Issue: 2
Swansea University Author: Rajesh Ransing
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Purpose: This study aims to understand the difference between irreversibility in heat and work transfer processes. It also aims to explain that Helmholtz or Gibbs energy does not represent ‘free’ energy but is a measure of loss of Carnot (reversible) work opportunity. Approach: The entropy of mass i...
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Purpose: This study aims to understand the difference between irreversibility in heat and work transfer processes. It also aims to explain that Helmholtz or Gibbs energy does not represent ‘free’ energy but is a measure of loss of Carnot (reversible) work opportunity. Approach: The entropy of mass is described as the net temperature-standardised heat transfer to mass under ideal conditions measured from a datum value. An expression for the ‘irreversibility’, is derived in terms of work loss (Wloss) in a work transfer process, unaccounted heat dissipation (Qloss) in a heat transfer process and loss of net Carnot work (CWnet) opportunity resulting from spontaneous heat transfer across a finite temperature difference during the process. The thermal irreversibility is attributed to not exploiting the capability for extracting work by interposing a combination of Carnot engine(s) and/or Carnot heat pump(s) that exchanges heat with the surrounding and operates across the finite temperature difference. Findings: It is shown, with an example, how the contribution of thermal irreversibility, in estimating reversible input work, amounts to a loss of an opportunity to generate net work output. The opportunity is created by exchanging heat with surroundings whilst transferring the same amount of heat across finite temperature difference. An entropy change is determined with a numerical simulation including calculation of local entropy generation values and results are compared with estimates based on an analytical expression.Originality: A new interpretation of entropy combined with an enhanced mental image of a combination of Carnot engine(s) and/or Carnot heat pump(s) is used to quantify thermal irreversibility.
Entropy; Entransy; Exergy Destruction; Entropy Generation; The Second Law of Thermodynamics; Irreversibility.
Faculty of Science and Engineering