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The Carnot Cycle

The Carnot cycle represents the cycle of processes for a theoretical heat engine with the maximum possible efficiency. Such an idealised heat engine is called a Carnot engine.

It consists of an ideal gas undergoing the following processes.

  1. Isothermal Expansion atthe temperature of the hot reservoir. An isothermal expansion takes place at constant temperature. Heat is allowed to enter the gas from the hot reservoir to keep the temperature constant.

  2. Adiabatic expansion. No energy is allowed to enter or leave the gas.

  3. Isothermal compression atthe temperature of the cold reservoir. An isothermal compression takes place at constant temperature. Heat is allowed to leave the gas to the cold reservoir to keep the temperature constant.

  4. Adiabatic compression. No energy is allowed to enter or leave the gas.

This cycle is illustrated below.

The temperatures of the hot and cold reservoirs determine the maximum efficiency of the engine.

in Kelvins.

Ifdegrees Celsius = 293 Degrees Kelvin andDegrees Celsius = 573 Degrees Celsius, then