Adiabatic process

Definition of Adiabatic Process

An adiabatic process in the realm of thermodynamics denotes a process wherein a system, often a volume of gas, refrains from heat interaction with its surrounding environment. The fluctuation in the system's energy during an adiabatic process appears as a shift in temperature, volume, or pressure, not as a transference of heat in or out of the system.

Types of Adiabatic Processes

Two primary forms of adiabatic processes are identified: isentropic and polytropic.

Isentropic processes: These are adiabatic processes reversible by an imperceptible change in a variable. During these processes, the system's entropy, gauging its randomness or disorder, remains unchanged.

Polytropic processes: These processes are broader and could be either reversible or irreversible. The term 'polytropic' signifies the particular mathematical relation linking the gas's pressure and volume throughout the process.

Adiabatic Processes in Meteorology

Adiabatic processes greatly shape atmospheric physics and weather patterns. For example, when parcels of air ascend in the atmosphere, they expand and cool adiabatically due to the diminished pressure at higher altitudes. Conversely, when air falls, it undergoes adiabatic compression and heating, elucidating why valleys are typically warmer than mountaintops.

Adiabatic Processes in Engineering

In the field of engineering, especially in energy production and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) sectors, a sound understanding of adiabatic processes is vital. The functionality of gas compression and expansion apparatus, encompassing pumps, compressors, turbines, and engines, is frequently modelled as adiabatic processes. This is especially true when the machinery is insulated thoroughly, and the process unfolds swiftly.

Adiabatic Heating and Cooling

An adiabatic process implies alterations in temperature without any heat being injected or withdrawn. Rather, the temperature changes are attributable to pressure fluctuations. Adiabatic cooling takes place when a parcel of air's pressure drops as it rises and expands. Conversely, Adiabatic heating occurs when an air parcel's pressure rises as it falls and compresses. These principles hold a central role in the interpretation of weather patterns and climate systems.
Updated: May 19, 2023
Published by: Weather Atlas | About Us