A New Thermodynamics


By Kent W. Mayhew

Lost Work and Global Warming by Kent W. Mayhew



  Before we start it must be stated that our previous models concerning phenomena like the weather and global warming are generally based upon entropy and the second law as the rock in their foundation. Remove the rock and what do we have left? Probably: Weak, if not completely unrealistic models. And whether you consider this as a slight, or an opportunity, it is all up to you


Lost Work & the Atmosphere


 I have previously discussed that thermodynamics needs to be rewritten. The basis of this is the fact that entropy is one that wrongly associates randomness. Part of the reasoning is the poor association of an expanding system’s apparent randomness increase to lost work, as defined by PdV, by that system.


  Realizing that lost work: W(lost)= PdV can be better understood in terms of  thermal energy that is passed onto the surrounding atmosphere by the previously discussed expanding system.


 Remember: The atmosphere is basically a massive isothermal heat bath/sink hence work is generally lost when placed into it. Another way of viewing this is to realize that in order for a system to do work onto its neighbouring system then that system has to be at a higher pressure than the neighbouring system. And the above expanded system and surrounding atmosphere are at the same pressure after expansion. See reversibility and/orexpanding piston cylinder.


  Although clearly defined by PdV the lost work can numerous forms such as the simple upward displacement of our atmosphere. Or it may initially result in regional atmospheric pressure increases, which results in either a) an increase to the intermolecular collisions resulting in heat (remember that intermolecular collisions inelastic). Or b) that regional pressure increase will then try to expand resulting in a volume increase and/or intermolecular collision increase.


  Accordingly, an expanding system results in an increase in the atmosphere’s potential energy and/or a more direct heating of the atmosphere via molecular dissipation i.e. inelastic intermolecular collisions producing heat. Either way the thermal energy contained within our atmosphere has increased.


   And do not forget: If a volume is removed from the atmosphere then the atmosphere’s molecules experience an increase in kinetic energy (potential becomes kinetic), which results in the heating of the atmosphere’s molecules again via molecular dissipation. In other words the increase in kinetic energy is nothing more than another way of adding thermal energy (heat) into the atmosphere.


  How does this all relate to global warming?  In a nutshell, the vast majority of “useful systems” that we use to move man and/or our machine relies upon system expansion at some point in their cycle which adds potential energy into the atmosphere. Consider the car engine, during the power step of its cycle, the fuel/air mixture explodes thus expands driving the piston up into the cylinder thus adding energy into our atmosphere or if you prefer:


1)     Adding potential energy via upwardly displaces our atmosphere.


2)      Adding heat via increased inter-molecular collisions


   The total of 1) and 2) is defined by: W(lost)= PdV. 


  Consider the steam engine, which is really based upon boiling i.e. latent heat of vaporation (AKA: enthalpy of vaporation). Herein, as water boils it changes state and thus results in lost work as is defined by: W(lost)= PdV.


  There is another way of viewing the energy a car gives into the atmosphere. Consider you are driving between two towns separated by a long flat road. It takes energy to accelerate the car, which then gives the car inertia. Due to this inertia: If it was not for drag (form of viscous dissipation between moving car and atmosphere), and other frictional factors i.e. friction between road & car, friction between moving parts within the car etc, then the car would keep going on going.


  In other words all the energy you use when driving except for that used to accelerate your car, goes into heating the atmosphere in one form or another. Food for thought!


 Lost Work in Basic science


You may ask what about the change in molecular bonding potential (U) between the liquid and gaseous states. Well that is not lost work because it can be regained once the liquid condenses.


 What you say. As I previously discussed the magnitude of the latent heat of condensation [L(condensation)]. does not equal the magnitude of latent heat of evaporation [L(evaporation)]. Specifically:


            [L(evaporation)].= U+PdV      1)


[L(condensation)] = -U             2)


 And of course the reasoning is that evaporation involves lost work (PdV) while condensation does not!


 One has to realize that we previously wrongfully explained why useful systems are never 100% efficient via the second law. Of course accepting that the atmosphere has mass and that its upward displacement requires work is no different than accepting that a rock has mass, and that its upward movement requires work. Furthermore accepting this then we must now realize that thermodynamics as is traditionally taught is fraught with errors.


 Note: It should be stated that current climate models realize that a large percentage of the solar input results in evaporation of water but they do not realize that this results in work being done onto the atmosphere as defined by PdV!

How this changes climate models will require some thought.


 Lost Work and various forms of Energy Production 


Are all sources of energy subject to the inefficiency associated with lost work. Yes and no is my answer. Let me explain. 


Hydro generated electricity has no expanding system when produced nor when using therefore in theory hydro-electricity can power man and/or machine and not be associated lost work. Herein the only lost energy would be that associated with friction i.e. line loss which decreases with increasing voltage. Of course friction will cause heat, which will increase the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere but understandably this would be considerably less heating of the atmosphere than say a steam engine.


Is all electricity void of lost work? Consider electricity production.  Lost work occurs when burning coal or other fuels are used to drive the turbines that produce electricity. For example lost work occurs whenever we make steam from water in order to drive turbines (Rankine cycle). Therefore, even when making nuclear reactors that use their nuclear power to make steam and then drive a turbine, which generates electricity, there is a step that involves boiling, hence lost work, hence even nuclear plants result in extensive amounts of heat I going into the surrounding atmosphere, over and above what one may traditionally consider as heat being transferred.

The point becomes that many processes we use to generate electricity involves lost work but using electricity itself does not necessarily involve lost work. So we can say that hydro generated electricity is true clean energy but all generated electricity is not. By true clean I mean no lost work nor any generation of smog i.e. smog is also created when we use burn coal to generate electricity. 

Specifically, hydro dams do not involve lost work because they are powered by water going downhill, making hydro (hydro dam electricity) a true clean energy. But what about the evaporation process that makes the rain, which runs into rivers to power the hydro dam. Certainly, the evaporation process involves lost work but this is work lost by nature not man.


Let me explain: The sun’s rays cause the water in the ocean in evaporate and this involves lost work but it is abuse of the sun's energy by nature. The water then forms raindrops and that lost work is never recovered when rain falls, because it was lost in the evaporation process and can never be regained during the nucleation of the raindrops. So lost work even occurs in nature and this helps keep nature balanced.


 Specifically, there is an equilibrium condition where thermal energy enters the Earth’s atmosphere from the sun (blackbody/thermal radiation from a 6000 degree source), which directly heats the earth and atmosphere that causes evaporation which involves lost work thus also indirectly contributes to heating the atmosphere. Now one has to be suspect here on how we envision this because the energy required for evaporation actually comes from heat in the oceans and atmosphere. And then much of the above heat radiates from earth into space, as a lower temperature radiation that being blackbody of a few hundred degree.


     Global Warming


The real issue is how much lost work created by man contributes to global warming, as well as greenhouse gases. Remember lost work ultimately means thermal energy flows into our atmosphere from real useful systems that power our lives i.e. car engines, making of electricity (other than hydro) etc even farting by cows. Does this become a real issue of GLOBAL warming that is too often overlooked, or at least not fully understood.


Certainly current models claim that the solar input is such that in 1.5 hrs the Sun shines as much energy onto the Earth as humans consumed in a yr (yr used was 2001) See: “Green house effect & global climate change” as put out by Carnegie Mellon University in 2006, which is a great for understanding the fundamentals of global warming. However I believe that their models would be based upon traditional thermodynamics.


 Now I must state that based upon reading the above one would have doubts as to how much damage a moving car or even mankind as a whole does onto the atmosphere, other than possibly through greenhouse gases. Even so this author remains doubtful that man’s contribution to global warming does not include our activities. It must be understood that every time we disturb the natural dynamics of the atmosphere in any way shape or form, then the odds have it that we may be passing heat being onto the Earth’s atmosphere. And this is all part of the new realization that intermolecular collisions are inelastic.


We must keep in mind that when we apply traditional thermodynamics based upon entropy and the second law, we accept that lost work exists but we explain it in terms of an entropy increase within the expanding system. In other words there is a general lack of clarity as to where the lost work goes. One actually may conclude that the work goes into the expanding system or even into the hands of god (something Enrico Fermi once said about lost work of an expanding universe).


 By giving clarity to lost work is now done, we now must accept that the work is lost by the expanding system into the surrounding atmosphere. Now that we have irrefutable clarity, one should realize that all this lost work is heating our atmosphere. Okay your one drive to the corner store only put a small amount of lost work (PdV) into our atmosphere. But what happens if ten people do I, Or even say a 100 million people  do the same thing. No that lost work has the potential to becomes significant, so much so that we must now question to what degree is this associated with climate change.


 And never forget that your car motion disturbs the air’s thermodynamic equilibrium, which you may call drag because it reduces your car’s efficiency. Well that drag is nothing short of the direct heating of our atmosphere via increased intermolecular friction i.e. viscous dissipation. We can add to this all the heat generated by the friction of all the various moving parts both inside of and outside of your car.   


 We must acknowledge that climate change is not just about greenhouse gases and how they prevent thermal energy from radiating from our planet into space. Climate change may also be about how much energy we pump into our atmosphere as lost work.


My Apology


I am sorry but I have not calculated this but truth is I am alone in this fight and I need help. Anyhow right now I am having enough of a problem in finding people who actually give a s**t that we have such horrible problems in our understanding of thermodynamics: a subject where too many take an illogical math and try to put logic to that math rather than take a logical view of how systems work and then try to put logic to that math.


 Until I find a way of knocking sense into our scientific community, we may never stand a chance of really explaining climate change. So onto you good folk who read this, I hope that you take what I say to heart, I have no children, so I have no worries about their future. Even so, as I write this blog, I look at my 11month 120 lbs puppy and realize that yes his eye watering farts affect the planet but he will never do the damage that me, and my fellow humans have done and will continue to do.


Too often I find myself viewing human intelligence as an oxymoron. Please prove me wrong!! And as always thank you for reading what I wrote.


Thank you for reading what I have to say


Blog by Kent Mayhew


Blog:Lost Work and Global Warming
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