# Simple doubt in work done by gas

• Tanya Sharma
In summary, the first law of thermodynamics states that the work done by a gas is given by the product of the pressure and the change in volume. Some common doubts regarding this law include the source of pressure (whether it is from the gas or the surroundings) and the inclusion of a piston in the system. It is important to consider the potential energy change of the piston and whether it is included with the system or the surroundings. The mass of the piston also affects the results, but can be easily accounted for in calculations.
Tanya Sharma
In First law of thermodynamics , work done by the gas is given by pΔV .

I have few doubts regarding this-

1)Is 'p' ,pressure of the gas or external pressure of the surroundings ?If gas is expanding then surely gas pressure should be more than that of the surroundings and vica versa .

2)There are three things ,gas,container fitted with piston and surroundings .Now ,gas is exerting pressure on the piston i.e doing work on the piston .Piston is doing work on the surroundings. Then why is that considered as gas doing work on the surroundings ?

3)Is the piston considered in the arrangement always massless or it may have some mass ? How does that affect our results ?

I would be grateful if somebody could give his/her inputs .

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FLT - Fork lift trucks? Fermi Liquid Theory? First Law of Thermodynamics ... ah, probably that one :)

##W=P\Delta V## if the pressure is kept constant and the volume changes.
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/thermo/cppro.html

The piston will always have mass - it makes no difference.
In the model, the pressure is commonly supplied by the mass of the piston.

In lifting the mass of the piston, the gas has done work against gravity.

The pressure of the gas is treated at all times as the same as the pressure exerted on it - since there is no unbalanced force, this means that the piston is lifted at a constant velocity. It's an idealization - naturally there must have been an unbalanced force at some stage to start the piston moving. Think of the process as happening very slowwwly.

For #1

If you had a container with a piston on the bottom ( ie no gas inside ) and you pulled on the piston, how much work do you have to do to move the piston a distance x. Of course you know that is just pressure of the atmosphere times the area of the piston times the distance the piston moved, W = Fx.

Now, have a container with some air inside and pull the piston a distance x. Of course the work done on the surroundings is still the same as before, but since there is gas pushing on the other side of the piston to help you out this time, you have to do less work to pull the piston a distance x. You are interested in how much work the gas inside the container has done to help you out, so the PΔV of the gas inside the container is what is what you want to calculate.

Extending that to a machine, it is the work of the gas inside the container that will give you usable work to extract from the machine.

Tanya Sharma said:
In First law of thermodynamics , work done by the gas is given by pΔV .

I have few doubts regarding this-

1)Is 'p' ,pressure of the gas or external pressure of the surroundings ?If gas is expanding then surely gas pressure should be more than that of the surroundings and vica versa .

If the expansion is taking place irreversibly, then the pressure within the system is not uniform with respect to spatial position. So what pressure do you use to get the work done on the surroundings? You always use the pressure at the interface with the surroundings, p=pI. This is equal to the pressure of both the system and the surroundings at the interface, since pressure is continuous at the interface.

If the process is reversible, the pressure of the system is essentially uniform throughout, such that p=psystem=pI, where psystem is the uniform pressure throughout the system.
2)There are three things ,gas,container fitted with piston and surroundings .Now ,gas is exerting pressure on the piston i.e doing work on the piston .Piston is doing work on the surroundings. Then why is that considered as gas doing work on the surroundings ?
In the first law, we divide things into only two entities, system and surroundings. If there is a piston present, you have to decide whether you want the piston included with the system or with the surroundings. If you include the piston with the system, then the gas and piston are doing work on the surroundings. If you include the piston with the surroundings, then the gas (system) is doing work on the piston (which is lumped into the surroundings). If the system consists of the gas and the piston, then you need to include the potential energy change of the piston in determining the total energy change within the system in transitioning from the initial to the final equilibrium state. If the piston is included with the surroundings, then the pressure at the interface with the surroundings pI must be taken as the force per unit area at the inside piston face (associated with pushing the piston and whatever is behind the piston) in calculating the work.
3)Is the piston considered in the arrangement always massless or it may have some mass ? How does that affect our results ?

The piston can be considered to have mass, or to be massless. If it has negligible mass, then, by Newton's second law, the pressure on the inside face of the piston is always equal to the pressure on the outside face of the piston, and no work is done on the piston. It doesn't matter whether the piston is lumped with the system or with the surroundings. This situation is easier to conceptualize.

If the piston has mass, this isn't much more difficult to work with. You just need to do what I described in the previous answer.

For more details, see my Blog at my PF personal area.

Chet

Thank you for sharing your doubts and questions. As a scientist, it is important to have a critical mindset and question the concepts and equations we use in our work. Let me address your doubts one by one.

1) The 'p' in the equation pΔV represents the pressure of the gas. This is the internal pressure within the gas itself, not the external pressure of the surroundings. The external pressure of the surroundings may affect the work done by the gas, but it is not directly included in the equation.

2) In the context of the first law of thermodynamics, the concept of work done by the gas refers to the energy transferred to the surroundings due to the expansion or compression of the gas. This energy transfer is not limited to just the physical movement of the piston, but also includes any other forms of energy transfer such as heat or light.

3) The mass of the piston does not directly affect the work done by the gas. However, it may affect the overall efficiency of the system and the amount of work that can be done. In some cases, the mass of the piston may need to be considered, but it is not a factor in the equation pΔV.

I hope this helps clarify your doubts. It is always important to critically analyze and question our understanding of scientific concepts. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

## 1. What is work done by gas?

Work done by gas is the measure of the energy transferred to or from a system by a gas as a result of a force acting on the system through a distance.

## 2. How is work done by gas calculated?

The work done by gas can be calculated using the formula W = PΔV, where W is the work done, P is the pressure of the gas, and ΔV is the change in volume of the system.

## 3. What is the unit of work done by gas?

The SI unit of work done by gas is joule (J), which is equivalent to 1 newton-meter (N*m). Other commonly used units include calorie (cal) and kilojoule (kJ).

## 4. Can work done by gas be negative?

Yes, work done by gas can be negative if the gas is expanding and the force is acting in the opposite direction of the displacement. In this case, the gas is doing work on the surroundings and the change in energy is negative.

## 5. How does temperature affect work done by gas?

Temperature does not directly affect the work done by gas, but it can affect the pressure and volume, which in turn affects the work done. For example, if the temperature of a gas increases, the pressure and volume will also increase, resulting in a greater work done by the gas.

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