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Simple fuel cell question

  1. Nov 17, 2011 #1
    I'm given a fuel cell that uses methane as fuel:

    (CH4) + 2(O2) --> 2(H2O) + (CO2)

    And I'm asked to find (a) the electrical work I can get out for each mole of methane, and (b) the amount of waste heat produced.

    I understand that ΔG is defined as the amount of useful non-mechanical work that can be obtained from the system. So my first thought was that ΔG = Q + W(electrical). However, I'm told it's actually the case that ΔG = W(electrical) only. So why exactly is that? Isn't Q a form of non-mechanical work? Secondly, when I'm asked to compute the amount of waste heat, I go ahead and accept the confusing notion that ΔG = W(electrical) and attempt to compute the waste heat simply as ΔH = ΔU + PΔV = ΔU - W = Q. However, I'm told the waste heat is actually Q = ΔG - ΔH. Can anyone explain these two areas of confusion for me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2011 #2
    Just read the sticky. Perhaps this should have been in the HW section. But it is a conceptual question. I just pulled a relevant textbook question to demonstrate my areas of confusion about free energy.
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