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Explaining Exergy: A Cycle Approach

[+] Author Affiliations
Daisie D. Boettner, Michael J. Benson, Bret P. Van Poppel, A. Őzer Arnas

United States Military Academy, West Point, NY

James E. Bluman

Armed Scout Product Office, Redstone Arsenal, AL

Paper No. IMECE2012-86388, pp. 1005-1016; 12 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 6: Energy, Parts A and B
  • Houston, Texas, USA, November 9–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4522-6


The exergy of a system at a given state traditionally is defined as the maximum potential useful work available from the system as it reaches equilibrium with its surroundings or a specified state (dead state). Boettner, et al. [1] demonstrate consideration of work required to restore the system to its original state is inherent in the definition of exergy. They provide a visual interpretation for the concept of exergy of a closed system whose temperature and pressure are above those of the dead state: closed system exergy corresponds to the sum of net work associated with a power cycle and a heat pump cycle with both cycles incorporating the system state and the dead state. On further investigation, the second cycle is not limited to a heat pump cycle and can be modeled as either a power cycle or a refrigeration/heat pump cycle. This paper simplifies the analysis such that one can immediately graph on a pressure-volume diagram and a temperature-entropy diagram a cycle whose enclosed area represents the exergy of a closed system at state i interacting with its surroundings (dead state). This paper also examines the case in which the closed system temperature and pressure are below those of the dead state.

Topics: Exergy , Cycles



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