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Thermodynamics.
Transformation of energy

Quasi-static process

Quasi-static process

The quasi-static process, also known as the quasi-equilibrium process or infinitesimal reversible process, is a thermodynamic transformation that occurs very slowly and gradually, so that the system remains in a state close to equilibrium at each stage of the process.

During this type of transformation, the system experiences a series of infinitesimal changes in its properties, such as temperature, pressure and volume, so that at each moment the system can be considered in thermodynamic equilibrium.

A distinctive feature of the quasi-static process is that it is also a reversible process. This means that if the process is reversed, the system will continue to go through a series of equilibrium states and return to its initial state, leaving no net changes in the system or its environment.

However, it is important to note that in practice, quasi-static processes are ideal and rarely found in nature, as they involve infinitely slow rates of change.

Importance in thermodynamics

The concept of quasi-static process is fundamental in thermodynamics because it provides a solid theoretical framework for the analysis of systems in equilibrium and for the formulation of thermodynamic laws.

By considering quasi-static processes, precise mathematical models can be developed that describe how the properties of a system vary as a function of variables such as heat and work exchanged with the environment.

Furthermore, the quasi-static process serves as a conceptual tool to better understand the real processes that occur in nature. Although quasi-static processes are ideal and simplified, they provide a solid basis for approaching more complex and dynamic thermodynamic systems.

Examples

Below we show some examples that illustrate the concept of quasi-static process in different contexts:

Slow expansion of an ideal gas:

Imagine a cylinder with a moving piston containing an ideal gas at an initial temperature and pressure. If we gradually withdraw the piston, allowing the gas to expand slowly, the process could be considered quasi-static.

At each moment, the gas would be in thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment, and we could analyze how its pressure, volume, and temperature change as expansion occurs.

Adiabatic compression in an air compressor

When an air compressor compresses the air in a tank, it would ideally do so quasi-statically. This would involve a process where the compressor piston moves slowly, allowing the air to be compressed gradually.

During this process, the temperature and air pressure would increase smoothly and continuously, without causing sudden changes in the system.

Heat transfer in a heat exchanger

Suppose we have a heat exchanger that uses hot water to heat a colder fluid, such as oil. If hot water is slowly introduced into the exchanger and the oil is gradually heated, this process could be considered quasi-static.

At each stage, the system would be close to thermal equilibrium, allowing for smooth and efficient heat exchange between the fluids.

Mixing two liquids in a container

When two liquids are mixed in a container, such as water and alcohol, the mixing process can be considered quasi-static if it is done slowly and carefully stirred to ensure uniform distribution of the components.

During this process, the temperature and composition of the system would gradually change as the liquids mix, keeping the system in equilibrium at all times.

Conclusion

In summary, the quasistatic process is a thermodynamic concept that provides a solid theoretical framework for the analysis of systems in equilibrium and the formulation of thermodynamic laws.

Although quasi-static processes are ideal and rarely found in nature, their study is crucial to better understand real thermodynamic systems and apply this knowledge in fields as diverse as engineering, materials science and climatology.

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Publication Date: April 18, 2024
Last Revision: April 18, 2024