Adiabatic vs Isolated Systems
An adiabatic process is a process where the net heat transfer to the working gas is zero. An isolated system is a system that is completely shut off from the surroundings. In thermodynamics, adiabatic processes and isolated systems are very important. A good understanding in these two topics combined with other terms involved is required to understand the concepts in both classical and statistical thermodynamics. We encounter adiabatic processes and isolated systems, which are almost perfect in our daily lives. In this article, we are going to discuss what isolated system and adiabatic process are, their definitions, the other terms involved with these two, the similarities of isolated systems and adiabatic processes, some examples to these two, and finally the difference between isolated systems and adiabatic processes.
What is an Isolated System?
An isolated system is a system where no matter or energy transfer is possible with the surroundings. This is a very important concept in thermodynamics. The total amount of matter and energy of an isolated system is conserved. There are three other systems in thermodynamics. A closed system is a system where energy transfer with the surrounding is possible, but matter transfer is not possible. An open system is a system where both energy and matter can be transferred with the surrounding. The thermos flask is the best example found in our daily lives to an isolated system. Even though, the surrounding of the universe is not defined, the universe is considered as an isolated system. Therefore, for any system, the surrounding is equal to the system removed from the universe. Let’s assume that there is an isolated system, which does work on the surrounding. Since no energy exchange is possible between the system and the surrounding, the process must be an adiabatic process. It can be seen that all isolated systems are adiabatic.
What is an Adiabatic Process?
An adiabatic process is a process where no heat is transferred between the system and the surroundings. Adiabatic processes can occur mainly in two ways. The first method is by having an isolated system of which the volume can be varied. Any process occurring under such conditions is an adiabatic process. The second method is to do work on the system in a negligible time gap. This way no heat transfer is possible between the system and the surroundings. The compression of a gas pump used to fill tubes is a good example of an adiabatic process. The free expansion of a gas is also an adiabatic process. Adiabatic processes are also known as isocaloric processes.
What is the difference between Adiabatic Process and Isolated System?
• Only adiabatic processes are allowed for isolated systems, but not all adiabatic processes are done on isolated systems.
• Adiabatic process is defined as a sequence of states of the system, whereas the isolated system is a type of system.
• Adiabatic processes can also occur in closed systems.