It turns out that Gibbs energy doesn’t have a zero value at equilibrium — it has a constant constant and this constant is the energy of the molecules at each temperature. This is where we get the interesting picture. The question has been posed: given any equilibrium state, such as free energy of a gas, will the particles remain in that state? The answer is no, they will not. This is because the molecules at that temperature will be able to use that energy to break apart and form new molecules — they will change shape to match molecules in the next state.
This is really quite counter intuitive. The gas is a state that is perfectly neutral when it is a closed system — it doesn’t have a lot of free energy. It’s only that it’s a mixture of gas atoms, and there are other molecules that make up the mixture as well. When these molecules change into other form at a given temperature, the gas’s energy level changes and the molecules change back to their original state. Therefore, when gas atoms at a given temperature start to change in the next state, we don’t get a free energy shift.
Is that true of a thermodynamic process?
Yes, although this was discovered very recently. In the case of the thermodynamic process, what you see is a single chain of atoms going from one state to another. The atoms are in equilibrium and they are at the same temperature. The net change is that the net energy level, which is the sum of the free energy levels, is one.
What happens if this process was repeated over a long time?
The atoms start to get more and more separated as they age — they get clumped together and they end up a lot closer together as they get older. The net effect is that the average energy level for the molecules in the gas is no longer one. This is similar to a balloon going up in the air and the energy of the balloon just keeps getting larger and larger until it reaches a point where it stops expanding. In this case we have a finite amount of energy and the process stops.
In a Gibbs free energy analysis, does this mean that the process can’t get any better from here? Is the total energy of the gas constant over time?
Yes, the energy level is not constant over time. This is because as molecules start to change into other forms in a given temperature range, the total energy of the gas begins to get smaller and smaller. At a certain temperature, the molecules start
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