Free expansion

# Free expansion

Discussion

Encyclopedia
Free expansion is an irreversible process in which a gas expands into an insulated evacuated chamber.

Real gases experience a temperature change during free expansion. For an ideal gas, the temperature doesn't change, and the conditions before and after adiabatic free expansion satisfy
where p is the pressure
Pressure
Pressure is the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object. Gauge pressure is the pressure relative to the local atmospheric or ambient pressure.- Definition :...

, V is the volume, and i and f refer to the initial and final states.

During free expansion, no work is done by the gas. The gas goes through states of no thermodynamic equilibrium
Thermodynamic equilibrium
In thermodynamics, a thermodynamic system is said to be in thermodynamic equilibrium when it is in thermal equilibrium, mechanical equilibrium, radiative equilibrium, and chemical equilibrium. The word equilibrium means a state of balance...

before reaching its final state, which implies that one cannot define thermodynamic parameter
State function
In thermodynamics, a state function, function of state, state quantity, or state variable is a property of a system that depends only on the current state of the system, not on the way in which the system acquired that state . A state function describes the equilibrium state of a system...

s as values of the gas as a whole. For example, the pressure changes locally from point to point, and the volume occupied by the gas (which is formed of particles) is not a well defined quantity.