Reversible and Irreversible Expansion/Compression Processes: Simulation

This simulation was prepared using MathematicaDownload the free CDF player, and then download the simulation CDF file (click on the title or the figure to download below). Try to predict the behavior when a parameter changes before using a slider to change that parameter. A screencast is provided to explain how to use the simulation.

Simulation: Reversible and Irreversible Expansion or Compression Work 

This Demonstration shows animations and calculates work for reversible and irreversible expansions and compressions (adiabatic or isothermal) of an ideal diatomic gas in a piston-cylinder system side-by-side. 


Try to answer these questions before determining the answer with the simulation:

  1. Does an isothermal reversible compression or an adiabatic reversible compression to the same final pressure require more work? 
  2. Does an isothermal reversible expansion or an adiabatic irreversible expansion to the same final pressure generate more work? Which has a higher final temperature? 
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