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Engineering Thermodynamics A Graphical Approach

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer-Part I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.498.1 - 15.498.14



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Paper Authors


Israel Urieli Ohio University-Athens

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Joined the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at Ohio University in 1984, following 22 years of experience in research and development in Israel and the US. Has been teaching Thermodynamics continuously since 1990.

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

Engineering Thermodynamics – a Graphical Approach


This paper presents the first open-source web-based thermodynamic learning resource. The completely self-contained project is found at This web-book was designed for a two-course sequence in thermodynamics for Mechanical Engineering majors, and contains several unique pedagogical features that will be discussed in the paper. When coupled with the open-source nature of this effort, and the additional advantages of convenient classroom presentation, no textbook required, the ability for instant updating, and worldwide relevant links and interaction, we believe that this effort represents a significant improvement in thermal science education.

In this web-book thermodynamics is introduced starting with the First Law and its application in analyzing complete ideal Stirling and air-standard engine cycles, steam power plants, and refrigeration systems. A unique feature of the web-book is the extensive use of pressure-enthalpy (P-h) diagrams that enable intuitive visualization of even the most complex steam power plants to a high degree of accuracy. This is contrary to all current thermodynamic textbooks in which temperature-entropy (T-s) diagrams are used to represent steam power plants. This standard textbook approach is non-intuitive in that there is no indication of the turbine power output, and incorrect in that the ideal feedwater pump process is always represented by a line when in fact it should be closer to a single point.

Another significant departure from traditional thermodynamic texts is the use of the ideal Stirling cycle machine to represent the ideal reversible machine. The ideal Stirling cycle machine has a thermal efficiency equivalent to that of the Carnot cycle machine, and is much simpler to analyze. The ideal Stirling cycle and its thermal efficiency are analyzed immediately after introducing the First Law.

In addition to the analysis of the traditional fluorocarbon (R134a) refrigeration cycle, the transcritical carbon dioxide (R744) refrigeration cycle is also developed. Because of global warming concerns, the currently used refrigerant R134a is due to be banned from usage in European automobile air-conditioning systems within a few years. The alternative being developed is a return to CO2 as a refrigerant.

Background and Structure of the web-based learning resource

Having taught Engineering Thermodynamics continuously since 1990, and previously spending 7 years in the thermal sciences industry, I have seriously evaluated nearly every thermodynamic textbook available. In spite of periodically coming out with expensive new editions, almost all such texts have a number of pedagogical disadvantages and fail to significantly address the major advances in the field in response to the energy and global warming crises. Such shortcomings must be addressed to improve student readiness to face critical future energy engineering challenges.

Urieli, I. (2010, June), Engineering Thermodynamics A Graphical Approach Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15662

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