Thursday, July 13, 2006

Trust me, the idea of using the Peng-Robinson equation is hilarious

Along the lines of this post, I recall a time when my college study group was working on a problem set for Thermodynamics II (class motto: Remember Thermo I? This is worse!). We were trying to solve some question that involved a gas like carbon dioxide or something. It was getting pretty late, and we were all a little punchy. I said, “Well, if we use the ideal gas law, then PV=nRT.”

One of the study group members replied, “But carbon dioxide isn’t really an ideal gas.”

This was an issue that had come up in my group before; you see, the ideal gas law applies to, you guessed it, ideal gases. Which don’t technically exist. But it’s a reasonable approximation and the ideal gas law is the simplest equation to work with, and it was nearly midnight and we had been working on this problem set for hours. So I said to him, “Well, you can use the Peng-Robinson equation if you want to, but I am going to assume it’s an ideal gas.”

Oh, how we laughed.

And then we may have cried a little bit.

No comments: