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# A temperature scale that is independent of the properties of the substances

## that are used to measure temperature is called a thermodynamic temperature

scale. Such a temperature scale offers great conveniences in thermodynamic
calculations, and its derivation is given below using some reversible
heat engines.
The second Carnot principle discussed in Section 68 states that all
reversible heat engines have the same thermal efficiency when operating
between the same two reservoirs (Fig. 642). That is, the efficiency of a
reversible engine is independent of the working fluid employed and its
properties, the way the cycle is executed, or the type of reversible engine
used. Since energy reservoirs are characterized by their temperatures, the
thermal efficiency of reversible heat engines is a function of the reservoir
temperatures only.
The hypothetical heat engine that operates on the reversible Carnot cycle is
called the Carnot heat engine. The thermal efficiency of any heat engine,
reversible or irreversible, is given by Eq. 66 as
where QH is heat transferred to the heat engine from a high-temperature
reservoir at TH, and QL is heat rejected to a low-temperature reservoir at TL.
For reversible heat engines, the heat transfer ratio in the above relation can
be replaced by the ratio of the absolute temperatures of the two reservoirs,
as given by Eq. 616. Then the efficiency of a Carnot engine, or any
reversible heat engine, becomes
(618)
This relation is often referred to as the Carnot efficiency, since the
Carnot heat engine is the best known reversible engine. This is the highest
efficiency a heat engine operating between the two thermal energy reservoirs
at temperatures TL and TH can have (Fig. 646). All irreversible (i.e.,
actual) heat engines operating between these temperature limits (TL and TH)
have lower efficiencies. An actual heat engine cannot reach this maximum
theoretical efficiency value because it is impossible to completely eliminate
all the irreversibilities associated with the actual cycle.
Note that TL and TH in Eq. 618 are absolute temperatures. Using C or
F for temperatures in this relation gives results grossly in error.
The thermal efficiencies of actual and reversible heat engines operating
between the same temperature limits compare as follows (Fig. 647):
hth (619)
6 hth,rev??irreversible heat engine
# hth,rev??reversible heat engine
7 hth,rev??impossible heat engine
hth,rev # 1 #
TL
TH
hth # 1 #
QL
QH
T 1C2 # T 1K2 # 273.15
Chapter 6 | 305
273.16 K (assigned)
Water at triple point
T = 273.16
QH
QL
Carnot
HE
QH
W
QL
Heat reservoir
T
FIGURE 645
A conceptual experimental setup to
determine thermodynamic
temperatures on the Kelvin scale by
measuring heat transfers QH and QL.
Low-temperature reservoir
at TL = 300 K
Carnot
HE
?th = 70%
QH
Wnet,out
QL
High-temperature reservoir
at TH = 1000 K
FIGURE 646
The Carnot heat engine is the most
efficient of all heat engines operating
between the same high- and lowtemperature
reservoirs