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Much of this book has been used for a course in thermodynamics for beginning graduate students in materials science and engineering (MS&E) and is considered as core material.
Those who enroll in the course come with a variety of backgrounds, although all have encountered thermodynamics at least once in their previous studies so that a minimum amount of time is spent on the fundamentals of the subject.
As compared with the available texts on MS&E thermodynamics, we think that the material covered in this book can claim to adopt a more modern approach in that we:
(A) Recognize the impact of the computer on the teaching of MS&E thermodynamics. While the impact of computers on the application of thermodynamics in industry is widely known, their influence on the teaching of thermodynamics to MS&E students has not been sufficiently recognized in texts to date.
Our philosophy on how computers can best be utilized in the teaching environment is given in more detail below.
(B) Make the students aware of the practical problems in using thermodynamics. It has been our experience that it is easy for students to be seduced by the charming idea of the ability of thermodynamics to predict something from nothing.
Many seem to believe that one has only to sit down with a piece of commercial software and request the prediction of equilibrium in the X–Y–Z system. In an effort to enable students to have a more realistic outlook, we have placed a lot of emphasis on system definition.
Proper system definition can be particularly difficult when considering chemical equilibria in high-temperature systems. The ability to arrive at incorrect results from thermodynamic calculations on a poorly defined system is something of which all students should be made aware.
(C) Emphasize that the calculation of the position of phase and chemical equilibrium in complex systems, even when properly defined, is not easy. It usually involves finding a constrained minimum in the Gibbs energy.
It is nevertheless possible to illustrate the principles involved to students and this we have set out to try and do. With this aim in mind, the use of Lagrangian multipliers is introduced early on for the simplest case of phase equilibrium in unary systems.
The same procedure is then followed in its application to phase equilibria in binary systems and the calculation of chemical equilibria in complex systems.
(D) Relegate concepts like equilibrium constants, activities, activity coefficients, free-energy functions, Gibbs–Duhem integrations, all of which seemed so important in the teaching of thermodynamics 50 years ago, to a relatively minor role. This change in emphasis is again a result of the impact of computer-based calculations.
(E) Consider the use of approximations of higher order than the usual Bragg–Williams in solution-phase modeling.
We both have taught thermodynamics to metallurgy and materials science and engineering students for several decades. Much of the material presented has, of course, drawn heavily on previously published books and articles.
The origin of this material has, in many cases, long since been forgotten. To those who might recognize their work and see it unacknowledged, we can only apologize.
To Andy Watson and Helmut Wenzl, who have helped by reading much of the manuscript and have picked up countless errors, we say thank you. Undoubtedly, through no fault of theirs, many, both serious and not so serious, remain.
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