About....... exergy


All real processes are irreversible. This reality is expressed by the second law of thermodynamics. Second law analysis is about understanding irreversibility in systems. It focuses on changes in the quality of energy. The quality of energy is measured by exergy. As energy is used in a process it loses quality, its exergy decreases. There cannot be an "energy crisis" as energy is always conserved. (This is the essence of the first law of thermodynamics.) However exergy is a scarce resource which we are depleting daily.

Second law analysis gives a very different perspective on our resource consumption and the realities of our economy. Unfortunately the fundamental realities revealed by second law analysis have not been embraced by economics and hence this discipline is misguided.

Self-organization is about the emergence of dissipative systems. The essence of these systems is that they develop and support structure by dissipating the exergy in the energy that flows through them. An understanding of self-organizing phenomena, including living systems, must have as a cornerstone, second law analysis and the concept of exergy. We are only beginning to appreciate the ramifications of this realization.

   An introduction to the subject which one of my students and I wrote for high school use:
      Availability, Exergy, the Second Law and all that......

   An Annotated Bibliography

   "Exergy Analysis of Eco-Systems: Establishing a Role for the Thermal Remote Sensing"

   Ecosystems as Self-organizing Holarchic Open Systems: Narratives and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

   Life as a Manifestation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics

  Musings on The second law of thermodynamics and self-organization

   The relationship between information theory and thermodynamics: the mathematical basis (90K PDF file)

(To be added soon)
Schneider, E.D, Kay, J.J., 1993, "Exergy Degradation, Thermodynamics, and the Development of Ecosystems" in Tsatsaronis G., Szargut, J., Kolenda, Z.,Ziebik, Z., (eds) Energy, Systems, and Ecology, Volume 1,Proceedings of ENSEC' 93, July 5-9 Cracow, Poland., pp. 33-42


Related Papers

   Schneider, E.D, Kay, J.J., 1994 "Complexity and Thermodynamics:Towards a New Ecology", Futures 24 (6) pp.626-647, August 1994

   Schneider, E.D, Kay, J.J., 1995, "Order from Disorder: The Thermodynamics of Complexity in Biology", in Michael P. Murphy, Luke A.J. O'Neill (ed), "What is Life: The Next Fifty Years. Reflections on the Future of Biology", Cambridge University Press, pp. 161-172


WWW sources

The international on line journal exergy

Goran Wall's WWW site: exergy.se

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Last updated 8 May, 2002.