All activities in nature involve some interaction between energy and matter; thus, it is hard to imagine an area that does not relate to thermodynamics in some manner. Therefore, developing a good understanding of basic principles of thermodynamics has long been an essential part of engineering education.
Thermodynamics is commonly encountered in many engineering systems and other aspects of life, and one does not need to go very far to see some application areas of it. In fact, one does not need to go anywhere. The heart is constantly pumping blood to all parts of the human body, various energy conversions occur in trillions of body cells, and the body heat generated is constantly rejected to the environment. The human comfort is closely tied to the rate of this metabolic heat rejection. We try to control this heat transfer rate by adjusting our clothing to the environmental conditions.
Other applications of thermodynamics are right where one lives. An ordinary house is, in some respects, an exhibition hall filled with wonders of thermodynamics (Fig. 1–4). Many ordinary household utensils and appliances are designed, in whole or in part, by using the principles of thermodynamics.
Some examples include the electric or gas range, the heating and air-conditioning systems, the refrigerator, the humidifier, the pressure cooker, the water heater, the shower, the iron, and even the computer and the TV. On a larger scale, thermodynamics plays a major part in the design and analysis of automotive engines, rockets, jet engines, and conventional or nuclear power plants, solar collectors, and the design of vehicles from ordinary cars to airplanes (Fig. 1–5).
The energy-efficient home that you may be living in, for example, is designed on the basis of minimizing heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. The size, location, and the power input of the fan of your computer is also selected after an analysis that involves thermodynamics.
Reference: Thermodynamics – An Engineering Approach 5th Edition by: Yunus A. Cengel and Michale A. Boles