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If the external pressure is not constant, then you use the reversible reaction equation. When the external pressure is constant, you use the irreversible pathway equation. If the external pressure is less than the internal pressure, the gas will expand and do work. However, because this occurs in only one step rather than multiple steps, less work is done in an irreversible pathway than in a reversible pathway.
Sometimes, when you are trying to calculate values for a state function, it does not matter whether you use data from reversible or irreversible reactions since all you need is final minus initial; the path does not matter.
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