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A Matlab Toolbox For Thermodynamic Property Evaluation

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.34.1 - 5.34.12



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Paper Authors

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Chiew-Ping Bong

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Laura J. Genik

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Craig W. Somerton

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

A MATLAB Toolbox for Thermodynamic Property Evaluation

Craig W. Somerton, Chiew-Ping Bong, Laura J. Genik Michigan State University/Michigan State University/University of Portland

I. Introduction

MATLAB has become the technical computing language of choice for the mechanical systems courses in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. It is used extensively in the undergraduate controls and vibrations courses, as well as several technical electives. With the addition of toolboxes in optimization, signal processing, and controls system, it is truly a powerful tool for analysis in the mechanical systems area. Recently, it has become the structured programming language taught in the freshman engineering computer course at MSU. Unfortunately, the thermal/fluids area has not been able to utilize MATLAB as effectively due to the lack of property evaluation functions. Calculations in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer rely heavily on the evaluation of thermophysical properties, and without property functions, MATLAB will surely continue to be underutilized in the thermal/fluids area. To address this deficiency, the Thermal Engineering Computer Aided Design (TECAD) group at MSU has developed a thermodynamics property toolbox for MATLAB.

The Thermodynamic Property Toolbox consists of MATLAB functions for the evaluation of thermodynamic properties for several ideal gases, four compressible substances, and three incompressible substances. Both direct functions, such as calculating enthalpy given the temperature and pressure, and inverse functions, such as calculating the temperature given the pressure and enthalpy, are available. As pseudo code functions they may be called directly from the MATLAB workspace or incorporated into other script file programs. A graphical user interface tool has also been developed which allows for interactive property evaluation. Once the type of substance has been determined, the user identifies the two known intensive properties required to fix the state. The GUI then displays the remaining properties. The presentation of the GUI enhances the student’s understanding of the methodology of property evaluation and the decision making process that is intricate to the procedure.

This paper continues with some background on the property evaluation for the substance types considered. Next the MATLAB property functions are introduced, followed by a presentation of the MATLAB GUI's. The paper concludes with some observations concerning the development of the MATALB functions and their use.

II. Property Evaluation Background

For an introductory course in thermodynamics, it is often assumed that the world can be divided up into three types of substances

Bong, C., & Genik, L. J., & Somerton, C. W. (2000, June), A Matlab Toolbox For Thermodynamic Property Evaluation Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8556

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