What it means to be reversible/irreversible process


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Izzy Ick 4B
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 3:00 am

What it means to be reversible/irreversible process

Postby Izzy Ick 4B » Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:04 pm

In an reversible or irreversible process, what exactly is the quality of the process that is able to be (or not to be) reversed?

i.e. why are they called this

Christie Wu 2B
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 3:00 am

Re: What it means to be reversible/irreversible process

Postby Christie Wu 2B » Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:58 pm

As far as what can or cannot be reversed:
Basically, for reversible processes, the changes are so small that the system and its surroundings are able to remain at equilibrium throughout the whole process and therefore can be returned to the initial state from the final state without changes in the thermodynamic properties (of the system and its surroundings, ie the "universe").
However, for irreversible processes, the changes are in "chunks" (finite) so the system is not at equilibrium during the process and you cannot change the states of both the system and surroundings back to their initial conditions.
I hope that makes sense.
As for why they are called reversible/irreversible, I'm not sure but (someone correct me if I'm wrong) I assume it refers to the reversibility of the initial state from its final state...


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