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Spreadsheet Calculations Of Thermodynamic Properties

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Computer & Web-Based Instruction

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1132.1 - 10.1132.14



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Paper Authors

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Tom Mincer

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David McDaniel

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Laurence Caretto

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

Spreadsheet Calculations of Thermodynamic Properties

Larry Caretto, David McDaniel, Tom Mincer CSU, Northridge/US Air Force Academy/CSU, Northridge


A thermodynamic property calculation tool has been developed based on the Excel™ spreadsheet program. This tool can be used to determine individual state points by a graphical user interface (GUI) calculator. In addition, spreadsheet cell formulas and Visual Basic function calls can also be used to build models of thermodynamic systems. The resulting model can be used to show the effects of parameter changes on overall results such as cycle efficiency, power production, refrigeration load and coefficient of performance. In addition, the Excel™ GoalSeek or Solver tools can be used to solve systems of equations or to determine system parameters that give a constrained optimum condition. The software is available at no cost.


Computer calculation of thermodynamic properties is an efficient replacement for property tables, which are still used in thermodynamics instruction. Computerized property calculations are used routinely in engineering applications. They are available from a variety of sources, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology.1

Computer property calculations are a part of current thermodynamics texts. The book by Çengel and Boles2 includes an academic version of the Engineering Equation Solver (EES) that allows students to formulate thermodynamic problems as a set of equations that may involve thermodynamic property calculations. EES is then able to solve a properly posed problem. It can also be used for finding an individual property at a single state. The texts by Sonntag et al.3 and Moran and Shapiro4 include programs that can find state properties or generate tables.

Several recent ASEE papers have discussed the use of computer property calculations in thermodynamics instruction. Dixon5 suggested that it is time to teach thermodynamics with only computer property calculations. He noted that the U.S. Coast Guard Academy introduces EES in the first thermodynamics course, and concluded that the “the value of utilizing the program capabilities makes the learning effort well worthwhile.” Ngo and Lai6 discussed web-based tools for computing thermodynamic properties and learning how to use tables. Aung7described three programs, CyclePad, PsyCalc, and Gaseq, which solve thermodynamic problems with property calculations included. Hudson8 discussed the required use of laptop computers, which include thermodynamic property calculation programs, at Mississippi State University. Somerton et al.9 developed a MATLAB toolbox for thermodynamic property calculations.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Mincer, T., & McDaniel, D., & Caretto, L. (2005, June), Spreadsheet Calculations Of Thermodynamic Properties Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15143

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