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Activities

Problem

##### Power from the Ocean

It has been proposed to use the thermal gradient of the ocean to drive a heat engine. Suppose that at a certain location the water temperature is $22^\circ$C at the ocean surface and $4^{o}$C at the ocean floor.

1. What is the maximum possible efficiency of an engine operating between these two temperatures?

2. If the engine is to produce 1 GW of electrical power, what minimum volume of water must be processed every second? Note that the specific heat capacity of water $c_p = 4.2$ Jg$^{-1}$K$^{-1}$ and the density of water is 1 g cm$^{-3}$, and both are roughly constant over this temperature range.

• Found in: Energy and Entropy course(s)

Problem

##### Power Plant on a River

At a power plant that produces 1 GW ($10^{9} \text{watts}$) of electricity, the steam turbines take in steam at a temperature of $500^{o}C$, and the waste energy is expelled into the environment at $20^{o}C$.

1. What is the maximum possible efficiency of this plant?

2. Suppose you arrange the power plant to expel its waste energy into a chilly mountain river at $15^oC$. Roughly how much money can you make in a year by installing your improved hardware, if you sell the additional electricity for 10 cents per kilowatt-hour?

3. At what rate will the plant expel waste energy into this river?

4. Assume the river's flow rate is 100 m$^{3}/$s. By how much will the temperature of the river increase?

5. To avoid this “thermal pollution” of the river the plant could instead be cooled by evaporation of river water. This is more expensive, but it is environmentally preferable. At what rate must the water evaporate? What fraction of the river must be evaporated?

• Found in: Energy and Entropy course(s)

Problem

5 min.

##### Heat pump
1. Show that for a reversible heat pump the energy required per unit of heat delivered inside the building is given by the Carnot efficiency: \begin{align} \frac{W}{Q_H} &= \eta_C = \frac{T_H-T_C}{T_H} \end{align} What happens if the heat pump is not reversible?

2. Assume that the electricity consumed by a reversible heat pump must itself be generated by a Carnot engine operating between the even hotter temperature $T_{HH}$ and the cold (outdoors) temperature $T_C$. What is the ratio $\frac{Q_{HH}}{Q_H}$ of the heat consumed at $T_{HH}$ (i.e. fuel burned) to the heat delivered at $T_H$ (in the house we want to heat)? Give numerical values for $T_{HH}=600\text{K}$; $T_{H}=300\text{K}$; $T_{C}=270\text{K}$.

3. Draw an energy-entropy flow diagram for the combination heat engine-heat pump, similar to Figures 8.1, 8.2 and 8.4 in the text (or the equivalent but sloppier) figures in the course notes. However, in this case we will involve no external work at all, only energy and entropy flows at three temperatures, since the work done is all generated from heat.

• Found in: Thermal and Statistical Physics course(s)

Lecture

120 min.

##### Work, Heat, and cycles
These lecture notes covering week 8 of https://paradigms.oregonstate.edu/courses/ph441 include a small group activity in which students derive the Carnot efficiency.
• Found in: Thermal and Statistical Physics course(s)