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In addition, when a system is irreversible, we can see it as expanding into a vacuum. This means that the ∆Ssurroundings will be equal to zero because there is no change of entropy in a pressure-less reservoir. However, this is very different from a reversible system, for which the ∆Stotal of the universe if actually equal to zero. All of this information is crucial to know so that you can do the proper calculations and make the proper assumptions in your reasoning.
It is important that the question clarifies that it is an irreversible process because it tells us which equation to use. Because it is irreversible, we can use the equation w=-p(delta V), rather than the equation w=-nRTln(V2/V1) for reversible processes.
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