Thermodynamic Equilibrium - Overview


Classical thermodynamics deals with states of dynamic equilibrium. The state of a system at thermodynamic equilibrium is the one for which some thermodynamic potential is minimized, or for which the entropy is maximized, for specified conditions. One such potential is the Helmholtz free energy (A), for a system with surroundings at controlled constant temperature and volume:

A = U – TS.

Another potential, the Gibbs free energy (G), is minimized at thermodynamic equilibrium in a system with surroundings at controlled constant temperature and pressure:

G = U – TS + PV.

where T denotes the absolute thermodynamic temperature, P the pressure, S the entropy, V the volume, and U the internal energy of the system.

Thermodynamic equilibrium is the unique stable stationary state that is approached or eventually reached as the system interacts with its surroundings over a long time. The above-mentioned potentials are mathematically constructed to be the thermodynamic quantities that are minimized under the particular conditions in the specified surroundings.

Read more about this topic:  Thermodynamic Equilibrium

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