Demystifying Thermodynamics by connecting it with Mechanics

ASME Press
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
2008 ASME International Mrchanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, 2008, pp. 1 - 10
Issue Date:
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The laws of thermodynamics provide an adequate basis for the development of classical thermodynamics and for the many empirical relationships used by mechanical and chemical engineers. The laws evolved before the advent of the computer with its ability to handle complex simulations. This led to the classical structure that did not require a molecular view of matter. The concept of entropy grew out of this classical view but, has unfortunately earned a reputation for being something mysterious and difficult. Statistical mechanics, much of which is based on Newtonian mechanics, has the power to remove the mystery. But, because of its mathematical complexity, it has rarely been used by engineers either to clarify understanding or to analyze processes and models. We propose, illustrating with examples, that simple Newtonian mechanical models can be used in place of statistical mechanics at least for the teaching of concepts.
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