Chemical thermodynamics

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Chemical thermodynamics is the study of the interrelation of heat and work with chemical reactions or with physical changes of state within the confines of the laws of thermodynamics. Chemical thermodynamics involves not only laboratory measurements of various thermodynamic properties, but also the application of mathematical methods to the study of chemical questions and the spontaneity of processes.

The structure of chemical thermodynamics is based on the first two laws of thermodynamics. Starting from the first and second laws of thermodynamics, four equations called the "fundamental equations of Gibbs" can be derived. From these four, a multitude of equations, relating the thermodynamic properties of the thermodynamic system can be derived using relatively simple mathematics. This outlines the mathematical framework of chemical thermodynamics.[1]

Contents

History

In 1865, the German physicist Rudolf Clausius, in his Mechanical Theory of Heat, suggested that the principles of thermochemistry, e.g. such as the heat evolved in combustion reactions, could be applied to the principles of thermodynamics.[2] Building on the work of Clausius, between the years 1873-76 the American mathematical physicist Willard Gibbs published a series of three papers, the most famous one being the paper On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances. In these papers, Gibbs showed how the first two laws of thermodynamics could be measured graphically and mathematically to determine both the thermodynamic equilibrium of chemical reactions as well as their tendencies to occur or proceed. Gibbs’ collection of papers provided the first unified body of thermodynamic theorems from the principles developed by others, such as Clausius and Sadi Carnot.

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