Examples of Isolated Systems

Is named isolated thermodynamic system to one that does not exchange energy or matter with the environment in which it develops. They are, therefore, ideal systems, not existing in reality except during a determined period of time and according to certain considerations. For example: the neoprene suits, the thermos, the universe.

There are two possible uses for the term isolated system, one in the field of electronics and the other in thermodynamics.

In the electronics Isolated electrical systems are those that operate outside of an established supply network, and they do so remotely thanks to autonomous power sources, such as solar panels, wind turbines or geothermal sources.

However, the most common use of the term is the second, referring to the thermodynamics or branch of physics that studies the mechanics of heat and energy.

In both cases it is called system to a portion of reality whose elements operate through a more or less ordered relationship with each other. The human body, the planet Earth or even the Milky Way can be understood as systems.

Types of thermodynamic system

This branch of physics usually distinguishes between three types of system:

  • Open system. That freely exchanges matter and energy with its surroundings, such as ocean water, which can heat up, evaporate, cool down, etc.
  • System closed. That only exchanges energy but not matter with its environment, such as a closed plastic container, whose content cannot be extracted but can be cooled or heated.
  • Isolated system. It does not exchange matter (mass) or energy with its surroundings. There are no perfectly isolated systems.

Examples of isolated systems

  1. The wetsuits. The use of these suits protects the heat exchange between the water and the body for a period of time, and prevents it from penetrating inside.
  2. thermos. For a certain time, the thermos manages to isolate the heat contained in its interior and prevent the escape and entry of energy and matter.
  3. a thermal cava. The cellars operate based on the extreme reduction of heat input, keeping their contents cold for a certain period. Once this time range is exceeded, the content will begin to heat up.
  4. Eskimo igloos. They are designed in such a way that neither heat nor matter enters or exits.
  5. a gas bottle. Contained under pressure inside, the gas is isolated from matter and energy around it under normal conditions since it is possible that the heating of the cylinder forces the gas to expand and a tragedy occurs.
  6. The universe. The universe is an isolated system since nothing enters or leaves it, neither matter nor energy.
  7. canned food. Under normal conditions, these foods are far from any exchange of matter or energy. Of course it would be possible to heat or cool the can, and even melt it in extreme temperatures, but even then for a few (brief) moments the food will be completely insulated from the heat.
  8. A safe. The contents in the safes are separated by thick hermetic layers of metal from their surroundings, isolated from matter and energy, at least under normal conditions: if we throw it into a volcano, it is sure to melt and incinerate its contents.
  9. a hyperbaric chamber. Useful precisely to isolate divers with nitrogen bubbles in their blood from atmospheric conditions, a hyperbaric chamber does not allow the exchange of matter or energy, or at least not in appreciable and significant quantities.