Equilibrium Thermodynamics



Since the industrial revolution, the story of technology, which has underpinned civilisation’s physical development, has largely been a saga of rapidly expanding exploitation of the power of the sun—but not unfortunately, the power gifted by current sunlight, but the power derived from ‘ancient sunlight’ in the form of energy stored in the fossilised deposits of the flora and fauna of primordial forests. Mankind has, for the past 200 years, been burning this ‘ancient sunlight’, in the form of coal, oil and gas, as if there was no tomorrow. The urge evinced by entrepreneurs, assisted by scientists and engineers, to make best use of this buried energy, initially through the agency of steam and then through the direct combustion of oil and gas, led to the science of thermodynamics. The development of the laws of thermodynamics, which form the basis of the subdivision of the topic dealing with equilibrium systems, is reviewed here.


Internal Combustion Engine Heat Engine Steam Engine Carnot Cycle Otto Cycle 


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© Springer-Verlag London Limited  2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Engineering and Physical ScienceHeriot-Watt UniversityEdinburghUK

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