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For a reversible process (with regards to expansion), an infinitesimally small change in external pressure will cuss a change in volume, while in an irreversible process, an infinitesimally small change will not. For an irreversible process, use w=-P(deltaV). For a reversible process, use w=nRT ln V2/V1.
The basic difference between reversible and irreversible processes is that in the reversible process the system remains in thermodynamic equilibrium, while in the irreversible process the system does not remain in thermodynamic equilibrium. Reversible work means that the entire system (including the surrounding system) can be returned to the starting state. Irreversible work means that we can only bring the piston back to the starting state if we change the surrounding system.
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