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what's the actual concept behind a irreversible/reversible process? I understand you use different equations for each but what does it actually mean for a reaction to be reversible? what does it have to do with pressure?
When a process is reversible, this means that the exterior pressure is able to change (this is why we do not use w=-P*delta V). Since the pressure is constantly changing, it can match the interior pressure of the system at every point, meaning that the work the system does is at its maximum. Reversible processes do not occur naturally, scientists make the settings. When a process is irreversible, the exterior pressure is constant.
A reversible process is when the direction can be reversed by an infinitely small change in a variable. An irreversible process is when an infinitely small change in the external pressure does not reverse the direction of travel of the piston. Also the work a system can do is the greatest in a reversible process.
Hi! So the jist of it is that a reversible process is one so sensitive (and most likely heavily controlled in the lab) that even an incredibly small change to a variable (such as pressure) would reverse the reaction. On the other hand, an irreversible process, an infinitely small change in the variable (pressure) doesn't reverse the reaction.
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