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Teaching Thermodynamics

The teaching of thermodynamics and phase equilibria in Materials Science and Engineering degree courses is becoming less popular than was previously the case despite remarkable advances over the last thirty years in computer software and databases which apply thermodynamic principles to calculate phase equilibria and provide real insight into complex industrial processes involving many different elements and phases. The problem is that students quickly become disillusioned as a result of the large number of equations and proofs without obvious practical application involved in traditional thermodynamics teaching. This has been highlighted in a recent editorial in J. Phase Equilibria by Fred Hayes (UMIST).

As a result of this course materials have been developed jointly between the National Physical Laboratory and Dr Fred Hayes to help people teaching thermodynamics make use of phase equilibrium calculation software and databases in stimulating interest and an appreciation of the relevance of thermodynamics in their students. Use as part of continuing professional development schemes in industry is also envisaged. Where possible principles have been illustrated by means of calculations for real rather than idealised systems undertaken using MTDATA developed at the UK National Physical Laboratory. More information about the course materials developed can be seen by clicking here.

Please click here for a list of useful reference books for thermodynamics and phase diagrams.


Updated 27 April 2010