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What are Reversible And Irreversible Processes?

August 7, 2022
written by Adeel Abbas

Reversible And Irreversible Processes are two different processes. a process in which the system returns to its initial position is called reversible reaction while irreversible reaction never returns to its original position.

What are Reversible And Irreversible Processes?

Every day, we see so many changes around us: water boils, iron rusts, ice melts, and paper burns. These are reversible or irreversible reactions. A certain amount of heat is absorbed from the surroundings and a certain amount of work W is done by the system on the surroundings. So how many systems can you restore to their original state? Here is the difference between reversible and irreversible processes.

Reversible Process

A process that can be retraced in exactly reverse order, without producing any change in the surroundings is called a Reversible Process. In the reversible process, the system passes through the same stages as in the direct process but all thermal and mechanical effects are exactly reversed.

 Suppose if heat is absorbed in the direct process, it will be given out in the reverse process. And if work is done by the substance in the direct process, work will be done on the substance in the reverse process.

Hence in a reversible process, the original conditions of the working substance are restored.

Reversible process example

  • Simple Harmonic Motion
  • Slow adiabatic compression or expansion of gases
  • The frictionless motion of solids
  • Slow isothermal compression or expansion of gases

What is Cycle?

The number of events that bring the system back to its initial condition a called a Cycle.

Reversible cycle:

A cycle in which all the changes are reversible is called a Reversible Cycle

Reversible cycle Examples:

The processes of liquefaction and evaporation of a substance are performed slowly. The slow compression of a gas in a cylinder

Irreversible process

If a process cannot be retraced in the backward direction by reversing the controlling factors, it is an irreversible Process. for example fission chain reaction.

image showing the irreversible fission chain reaction

Irreversible process Examples: