Reversible expansion and work in a vacuum


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Reversible expansion and work in a vacuum

Postby ZoeHahn1J » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:08 pm

In lecture today, Dr. Lavelle described that a gas expanding against a vacuum is reversible, and that as it expands, it does work against the piston (loses energy) that is then compensated by the heat (gain in energy). I'm a little confused, however, how could the gas be said to be doing work when it's expanding against a vacuum? Thank you so much!

Deap Bhandal L1 S1J
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Re: Reversible expansion and work in a vacuum

Postby Deap Bhandal L1 S1J » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:40 pm

I believe the piston had a string with mass attached to it on the outside of the chamber. Not fully sure, but I would recommend looking at the picture in your notes again.

Amanda Wu 2C
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Re: Reversible expansion and work in a vacuum

Postby Amanda Wu 2C » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:50 pm

As I recall from the book, a system does no expansion work when it expands into a vacuum because there is not an opposing force (pressure is 0). However, in Lavelle's lecture today, I believe he included a mass that was outside the vacuum chamber attached to the piston by a string. Because the expansion of the gas, though in a vacuum, raises the mass and work, as explained in the book is "the transfer of energy to a system by a process that is equivalent to raising or lowering a weight," work is being done.

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