TP: The origins of Thermodynamics

The origins of Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics began as a way to evaluate the potential of steam engines to provide work.

turbine cycle

It is based on "laws" that are simple generalized statements that are consistent with all known observations.

NOTE:

It tells us nothing about rates. As we will see in the Transport Pillar, rates depend on driving forces and resistances. While Thermo tells us about driving forces, it tells us nothing about resistances.

NOTE:

Also, Thermo is a "macroscopic" science in that it cannot describe the molecular mechanisms of events (although a molecular viewpoint can help us understand Thermodynamic properties, as we will see).

  • Thermodynamics $\rightarrow$ steam engines

turbine cycle

  • "laws" tell about process potential/limits not rates
  • rates $\propto \frac{driving\; force}{resistance}$. Thermo discusses driving forces only.
  • "macroscopic" science, although molecular $\rightarrow$ properties