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Reversible expansions occur very slowly over an infinite amount of time so that equilibrium is not disturbed. Irreversible expansions occur rapidly and disturb equilibrium. Because of this, reversible expansions require much more work.
605324529 wrote:What is the difference between reversible and irreversible expansions?
Along with what the other student said, the difference was explained to me as such. If you have two scales with a bunch of pebbles on them, an irreversable expansion would be similar to taking all of the pebbles off of the scale at once. A reversible reaction would be similar to taking off one pebble, waiting, and then taking off another pebble. In short, this basically means that irreversible reactions are fast and have a permanent volume change. In reversable reactions, the reaction is so slow that the outside pressure has time to adjust to equal the internal pressure. In reality, this would not happen as it is a theoretical concept.
To add on, a reversible reaction is a reaction where the reactants form products that will also react together to give the reactants in reverse. Furthermore, if heat is absorbed in the forward process, the same heat will be released out in the reverse process. Similarly, if work is done by the system in the forward process, work will be done on the system in the reverse process. Hence the system will restore to the original state. Yet in an irreversible reaction, the forward reaction and the reverse reaction do not undergo the same path.
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