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Chemistry LibreTexts

19: Chemical Thermodynamics

  • Page ID
    21674
  • Our goal in this chapter is to extend the concepts of thermochemistry to an exploration of thermodynamics (from the Greek thermo and dynamic, meaning “heat” and “power,” respectively), the study of the interrelationships among heat, work, and the energy content of a system at equilibrium. Thermodynamics tells chemists whether a particular reaction is energetically possible in the direction in which it is written, and it gives the composition of the reaction system at equilibrium. It does not, however, say anything about whether an energetically feasible reaction will actually occur as written, and it tells us nothing about the reaction rate or the pathway by which it will occur (described by chemical kinetics). Chemical thermodynamics provides a bridge between the macroscopic properties of a substance and the individual properties of its constituent molecules and atoms. As you will see, thermodynamics explains why graphite can be converted to diamond; how chemical energy stored in molecules can be used to perform work; and why certain processes, such as iron rusting and organisms aging and dying, proceed spontaneously in only one direction, requiring no net input of energy to occur.

    • 19.1: Spontaneous Processes
      Chemical and physical processes have a natural tendency to occur in one direction under certain conditions. A spontaneous process occurs without the need for a continual input of energy from some external source, while a nonspontaneous process requires such. Systems undergoing a spontaneous process may or may not experience a gain or loss of energy, but they will experience a change in the way matter and/or energy is distributed within the system.
    • 19.2: Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics
      Entropy (S) is a state function whose value increases with an increase in the number of available microstates.For a given system, the greater the number of microstates, the higher the entropy. During a spontaneous process, the entropy of the universe increases.
    • 19.3: The Molecular Interpretation of Entropy
      These forms of motion are ways in which the molecule can store energy. The greater the molecular motion of a system, the greater the number of possible microstates and the higher the entropy. A perfectly ordered system with only a single microstate available to it would have an entropy of zero. The only system that meets this criterion is a perfect crystal at a temperature of absolute zero (0 K), in which each component atom, molecule, or ion is fixed in place within a perfect crystal lattice.
    • 19.4: Entropy Changes in Chemical Reactions
      Changes in internal energy, that are not accompanied by a temperature change, might reflect changes in the entropy of the system.
    • 19.5: Gibbs Free Energy
      We can predict whether a reaction will occur spontaneously by combining the entropy, enthalpy, and temperature of a system in a new state function called Gibbs free energy (G). The change in free energy (ΔG) is the difference between the heat released during a process and the heat released for the same process occurring in a reversible manner. If a system is at equilibrium, ΔG = 0. If the process is spontaneous, ΔG < 0. If the process is not spontaneous as written.
    • 19.6: Free Energy and Temperature
      We can predict if a reaction will occur spontaneously by combining the entropy, enthalpy, and temperature of a system in a new state function called Gibbs free energy (G). The change in free energy (ΔG) is the difference between the heat released during a process and the heat released for the same process occurring in a reversible manner. If a system is at equilibrium, ΔG = 0. If the process is spontaneous, ΔG < 0. If the process is spontaneous in the reverse direction, ΔG > 0.
    • 19.7: Free Energy and the Equilibrium Constant
      For a reversible process (with no external work), the change in free energy can be expressed in terms of volume, pressure, entropy, and temperature. If ΔG° < 0, then K  > 1, and products are favored over reactants. If ΔG° > 0, then K < 1, and reactants are favored over products. If ΔG° = 0, then K = 1, and the system is at equilibrium. We can use the measured equilibrium constant K at one temperature and ΔH° to estimate the equilibrium constant for a reaction at any other temperature.
    • 19.E: Chemical Thermodynamics (Exercises)
      These are homework exercises to accompany the Textmap created for "Chemistry: The Central Science" by Brown et al.