Consider a gas contained in a cylinder with a movable piston. The gas is taken sequentially through constant pressure and constant volume processes. The gas is first in state we shall call A. By placing a particular mass on the top of the piston the pressure is maintained at a pressure P2 while the volume is increased from V1 → V2 to point B. Then the piston is clamped in place and the pressure is decreased to a value of P1 to point C. The next step is like the first in that a mass on the piston keeps the pressure constant as the volume is decreased to V1 at point D. The final step goes back to A with the piston clamped in place. Plot the cycle on the (P,V)− plane.
(a) Which steps require doing work on the system? In which steps is work done by the system? In which steps is no work done at all?
(b) Is there net work done on or by the system? What is the net work?
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(c) In which processes is heat flow into the system? In which is heat flow out of the system?
(d) What is the total change in internal energy in the cycle?
(e) Recalling Carnot’s idea that heat engines should work on a cycle, what you have is a cycle that could be used as a heat engine. The engine may be difficult to build in practice. But the cycle is there. Do you need additional information to compute the efficiency of this engine?