2015 BFY II Abstract Detail Page
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||W50 - How to Make Thermodynamics Relevant
||Make the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics come alive by applying them to real heat engines. In this experiment, two different heat engine P-V cycles will be graphed in real time to determine the efficiency and the change in entropy. A webcam is used to relate the actual physical heat engine to the P-V graph. Then we will use the same heat engine apparatus to find the ratio of specific heats using Ruchhardt's Method, assuming an adiabatic process. Finally, we will quantify another adiabatic process, the quick compression of a fire syringe, resulting in burning paper.
This lab encompasses constant volume, constant pressure, constant temperature, and adiabatic processes. The trick is to get students to recognize which type of process is occurring and which equations apply. When is heat entering the gas and when is work being performed? Of course we will be using an ideal gas in a thermally isolated chamber with a frictionless piston. Challenges to methods and assumptions used are welcome and encouraged.