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Thermodynamics: Heat Engine

Work energy can easily be converted to heat and other forms of energy, but converting energy back to work is not an easy task. However, taking the second law of thermodynamics into consideration, it is possible to create what is called a heat engine to transform energy into work. For a heat engine to work its process has to be the following.

1. Receive heat from a high temperature source, such as a furnace or boiler.

2. Part of that heat will then be converted into work, such as steam turning a turbine shaft.

3. The remaining heat will have to rejected as waste energy into a sink, so that the process can repeat.

A working fluid, such as water would be used so that the heat can be transferred from the source, and the waste heat can transferred to the sink. Below a schematic of a heat engine can be seen.

Heat Engine Diagram

Qin = amount of heat supplied by furnace or boiler

Qout = amount of heat rejected from the system through the sink

Wout = Amount of work delivered by the steam as it expands through the turbine

Win = Work required to run the pump

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