Thermodynamics - Mechanical Engineering

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A Brief about
Thermodynamics is a branch of science which deals with the energy possessed by the system on account of temperature. Thermodynamic system is defined as the matter or any substance in the device or several devices together which is being studied. It started very beginning of the 17th century and Thermodynamics found its eminent place in the science from the time of industrial revolution. Today in the era of modern technology Thermodynamics has become a separate field of study, in which huge research and development is taking place. Though, Thermodynamics exclusively deals with the macroscopic study of the system, it creates the foundation of other microscopic studies in the field for several engineers and researchers around the globe. Contribution of Thermodynamics has been vital and significant in other science disciplines like Physics, Chemistry and in several engineering disciplines like Computer science, Electronics and Communication, Electrical engineering, Civil engineering. It deserves special mention that Thermodynamics is a significant part of the mechanical engineering.

Thermodynamics exclusively deals with the heat. Heat got acceptance as a form of energy in 1850s after experiment performed by James Joule and other scientists of the time. Further Scientists tried to establish relation between heat and energy which became apparent when steam engine came into being during the industrial revolution in Britain. Further Sadi Carnot’s contribution of idealized cycle or Carnot cycle, unlocked the potential to understand the phenomenon of transfer of heat energy in a better way. Around the same time First law of thermodynamics was stated as the conservation of energy principle. It says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In other word we defined Perpetual motion machine of the first kind, a machine which works without giving any input energy thus such machine in reality can never exist.

Today we with the huge development work is taking place around the globe for which we are in the need of the enormous amount of energy. This why to fulfil our energy demands we are exploring alternatives from conventional to non-conventional energy. Reckless use of energy might be the cause of the future energy crisis. Here Thermodynamics plays invaluable role to make us realize that energy is conserved but quality of energy decreases which means useful energy or exergy is never conserved. Second law of thermodynamics gives the proof of this argument by giving two statement by Kelvin-Planks and Clausius. First law of thermodynamics doesn’t tell us the direction of flow of heat and work. This important distinction is done by second law of thermodynamics.

Experimental evidence has led to the Kelvin- Plank statement, which is-” It is impossible to construct a device which produces work in a complete cycle by transferring energy from a single reservoir”. Clausius statement is also a part of second law of thermodynamics which is - “It is impossible to construct a cyclic device which transfers the heat energy from a low temperature reservoir to a high temperature reservoir.” This way has come to know the direction of flow of heat energy as well as work. Zeroth law of thermodynamics and third law of thermodynamics have led to the expansion of the thermodynamics. Third law of thermodynamics states that “Entropy is zero at absolute zero temperature”. It has further proved the entropy of an isolated system always increases which means entropy of the universe always increases. We can alternatively say that Thermodynamics is the science of energy and entropy.
Today usefulness of thermodynamics has been increased be it a small internal combustion engine or be it large space craft, missile, or defence machinery we see the application of thermodynamics extensively. Today we rely on solar energy and other renewable energy significantly, which has been possible due to the significant role of Thermodynamics. Environment sustainability has been a debate around the globe. Countries have come together on the same table to discuss this common global problem. Thermodynamics can play vital role in understanding this common global problem and giving a sustainable solution for the problem. Thermodynamics as a field will keep empowering the scientist and giving the sustainable solution for different technological problems. It still has the vast potential to evolve and pave the way for whole new era for humanity.
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