Question
Sat March 03, 2012 By:
 

Explain why it is not possible to design a heat engine with 100% efficiency.

Expert Reply
Sat March 03, 2012
Another form of the Second Law of Thermodynamics or Carnot's Principle is that : It is not possible to make a heat engine whose only effect is to absorb heat from a high-temperature region and turn all that heat into work. That is, it is not possible to design a heat engine that does not exhaust heat to the environment. Or, it is not possible to design a heat engine that has an efficiency of 1.00 or 100%.

The efficiency of a heat engine can be 100% only if all the heat energy gets converted into work (or mechanical energy). The impossibility of converting heat energy completely into mechanical energy, limits the efficiency of heat engines. Since heat energy can never be transformed completely into mechanical energy, so the efficiency of a heat engine can never be 100 per cent. Early heat engines could convert only about 10% of the heat energy into mechanical energy, so they had 10% efficiency. The modern engines built with improved designs can convert about 40% of heat energy into mechanical energy, so they have 40% efficiency. Even if the design of heat engines is improved further, it will never be possible to convert all the heat supplied to an engine into mechanical energy or work. In other words, it will never be possible to design a heat engine having 100 per cent efficiency.
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