Work Done During Reversible and Irreversible Isothermal Expansion of an Ideal Gas©
Arthur Ferguson
Department of Chemistry
Worcester State College
48806 Chandler Street
Wocester, MA 01602-2597
United States
mail to: AFerguson@worcester.edu

This exercise examines how the work associated with stepwise irreversible isothermal expansions and compressions of an ideal gas changes as the number of steps is increased. It uses the graphing power of Mathcad to lead the user to discover that the work approaches an asymptote as the number of steps becomes very large and that that asymptote is the work for the reversible expansion or compression. It then challenges the user to recognize that the work for the reversible expansion or compression represents a limiting value for the work for the corresponding irreversible processes.
Editor's Commentary
Audiences: Upper-Division Undergraduate
Pedagogies: Computer-Based Learning
Domains: Physical Chemistry
Topics: Mathematics / Symbolic Mathematics, Thermodynamics, Gases
File NameDescriptionSoftware TypeSoftware Version
IsothermalExpansionWork8.mcd JCE Mathcad 8 Computational Document Mathcad 8
Isothermal_Expansion.nb JCE Mathematica 5.0 Computational Document Mathematica 5.0
IsothermalExpansionWork2001i.mcd JCE Mathcad Computational Document Mathcad 2001i
IsothermalExpansionWork.pdf Mathcad Read-Only Document
Isothermal_Expansion.pdf Mathematica Read-Only Document
JCE JCE Subscribers only: name and password or institutional IP number access required.
Ferguson, Arthur. J. Chem. Educ. 2004, 81, 606.
Comments to: Arthur Ferguson at AFerguson@worcester.edu
©Copyright 2004 Journal of Chemical Education