Thermodynamic Expression of Economics

Heat Engines And Production


First published on April 30, 2021. Last updated on May 12, 2021.

Heat Engines and Work

Instead of bridging a hot and a cold reservoir with a simple conductor, we can instead place a heat engine in between them.

A heat engine is a device that can use the flow of thermal energy to perform work. Such work can many things such include pumping water, compressing a spring, or running and electric generator. Below we see a hypothetical heat engine turning a wheel, such as to run a generator.

A heat engine will typically operate between  hot and a cold reservoir as shown below. The hot reservoir is shown on the left and the cold reservoir is shown on the right.

engine between two reservoirs


High temperature thermal energy will flow into the heat engine. A lesser amount of thermal energy will flow out of the hear reservoir.

heat engines bridges hot reservoir and cold reservoir. Work comes out.

Work and energy flow through a thermal conductor

The difference between thermal energy into and out of the heat engine is called work.

\( Q_{in} = Work + Q_{out}\)

Work and Productivity

Work is a form of physical productivity that may represent economic productivity as well. Physical work can used to produce electricity, manufactured goods and provide many services. Work is the useful products of physical and economic processes.

\(Production = Work \).


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