Free Energy and Work

hippo_li.gif (2057 bytes)

The reason for doing all of this work is so it can work for us.  Looking at these processes we can find whick can do work the most efficient and economical.  Finding whether something is spontaneous it can prevent us from wasting effort on a process that has no inherent tendency to occur.  Some reaction may be slow and we will have to find a catalyst that will speed it up.  The free energy can tell us how much work can be done by a process.  The maximum of possible work is equal to the change in free energy: wmax = wpe3.gif (856 bytes)G.  This is why it is called free energy.  wpe3.gif (856 bytes)G represents the energy that is free to do work.  The amount of work from a process will always be less than the maximum possible amount.  Like in a car engine, when we calculate the wpe3.gif (856 bytes)G for the battery reaction it isn't the real amount of work because some energy is lost through the electricity traveling through the wires.   Achieving maximum work can only be done by a hypothetical pathway.  There are also reversible process.  It is like recharging a battery.  When a battery is all drained then it is a irreversible process.  All processes are irreversible.

moose.gif (18700 bytes)Back to Check it Out