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Physical meaning of the extremums of the Van Der Waals equation

  1. May 4, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone,

    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    When I draw an isotherm into a p-V diagram I have to extrem values. If I do an experiment I won't find any extremum, because the van der waals equation isotherm is just theoretical (it's just a line in an experiment).
    However, I want to know the 'physical' meaning of the extremums, what do they mean?



    2. Relevant equations

    -

    3. The attempt at a solution

    As I don't have statisical mechanics/theoretical thermodynamics during my study I just get to know the basics in thermodynamics. I asked some friends of mine though they don't know the answer either. We thought about the following: When I approch the isotherm from the right I will find a maximum. This could be, because some of the particles start to condensate while others are still gaseous. That was the only idea we got, but I don't think that's the answer.

    Can anyone try to help me out?

    Thanks for you help
     
  2. jcsd
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