Chapter 5. Thermodynamics

Why do we study thermodynamics? This might be especially tough for the designer who loves to doodle, brainstorm, and create wonderful things. However, thermodynamics is the foundational discipline for looking at how energy moves. It provides a stepping stone for understanding how fluids flow and how heat moves. These are immensely practical concerns for those who want to design beyond the ubiquitous variants of an office chair.

In this chapter, we answer questions such as: Why does water boil? What makes ice skates work so well? And why does compressed air feel cool? Fundamentally, we are considering how energy moves from one form to another.

Thermodynamics is the science of energy and provides an explanation for the movement of energy. Thermodynamic properties can be observed from common phenomena such as the increased air pressure produced in a hot tire or the operation of a bicycle pump. Thermodynamic properties let us consider the nature of manifestations of energy, such as temperature, pressure, and velocity.

As hinted at previously, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer are interrelated in many ways—they describe how energy and fluids move. For the conceptual approach taken here, it is best to digest all three of these topics at once and find the interrelationships. You will see the thermodynamics discipline provides a helpful way to look at energy, while fluid dynamics expands on how energy can change form in practical ways. You will ...

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