Classical Thermodynamics: A Web of Convoluted Myths. The Carnot Cycle and the Joule-Thomson Effect Unravelled

Authors: Sosale Chandrasekhar

It is argued that several key ideas upon which thermodynamics was founded are likely dubious and may well need to be abandoned altogether. This particularly applies to certain concepts based on the ideal gas laws, e.g. isothermal and adiabatic expansion and compression. Indeed, this is apparently the reason for the invalidity of the Carnot cycle, a cornerstone of thermodynamics that has widely influenced the evolution of scientific thought and technological innovation over nearly two centuries. (It has been previously argued that the Carnot cycle is self-evidently invalid, as a closed system operating in a cycle cannot yield net work.) Likewise, a re-evaluation of the Joule-Thomson effect indicates that the actual operations performed relate neither to the model employed nor to the derived theoretical construct. In fact, the proof of constant enthalpy during the adiabatic expansion is debatable, the calculated volume changes being invalidated by the accompanying transfer of mass. Thus, the imputed conversion of kinetic to potential energy is unlikely to be valid (the latter, in fact, being associated with higher – rather than lower – pressures). The Joule-Thomson effect is likely the result of simple pressure changes (including a possible Bernoulli Effect at the nozzle), along with mass changes which affect the energy density, akin to those found at high altitudes (‘hill-station effect’).

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[v1] 2015-11-02 04:40:55

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