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This video was really helpful to understanding it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdM0DzlS3fQ. A reversible system happens when changes to the system and to the surroundings can be reversed. The changes in a reversible system are infinitesimally small, such that the system is always in equilibrium. In an irreversible system, changes to the system are not always at equilibrium and occur spontaneously, tending towards higher entropy. There is no way to reverse these changes towards higher entropy, since according to the second law of thermodynamics, even if you try to reduce the entropy of the system, the increase in entropy of the surroundings will be even greater. Thus more energy is put into generating heat rather than work in irreversible systems compared to reversible systems.
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