Ural Federal University: Scientist Tells What Passenger Flow and Thermodynamics Have in Common

What is the maximum efficiency of a heat machine at a given power that is less than the maximum, how does the limit power of a heat machine depend on the flow of heat, how to conduct heat and mass transfer processes at a given average intensity of flows with a minimum increase in entropy. Anatoly Tsirlin, chief research associate of the Research Center for System Analysis at the Institute of Software Systems of the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke about these and other problems. The professor held a scientific seminar at UrFU in the framework of the Russian Science Foundation project (20-61-46013 “Anomalous and nonlinear transport in heterogeneous and biological systems”) on the new direction of thermodynamics – optimizing thermodynamics.

“In recent years, thermodynamic systems have served as a model for describing a large class of systems that have nothing to do with thermodynamics. For example, the apartment exchange system, the passenger transportation system, finally, economic systems in the form of markets. It turns out that they have a lot in common with thermodynamic systems. The main thing they have in common is that they consist of a large number of elements, each of which cannot be controlled directly. That is, it is impossible to control every buyer in the market. But it is possible to control the conditions common to all, in which the buyer finds himself. For example, taxes”, says Anatoly Tsirlin.

The impetus for the creation of a new direction in physics was given by nuclear power engineering, the professor explains. Ivan Novikov, a Soviet scientist and director of the Institute of Thermophysics at the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences, set and solved a problem important for nuclear power engineering: what cycle and what efficiency has the cycle for which the power of a heat engine is maximal.

“This task was urgent because the cost of fuel in nuclear power is much lower than the cost of coal. But building a nuclear power plant is much more expensive than a thermal power plant. Therefore, it was necessary to strive to spend not less fuel from the built nuclear power plant, but to get as much energy as possible, to increase the capacity. In 1963, Novikov published a paper that solved this problem. With this work the optimization thermodynamics began, because in this problem already irreversible processes were considered,” explains Anatoly Tsirlin.

Ivan Novikov’s work was published in the journal Atomic Energy, which was distributed for official use. Therefore, the article was seen by a small number of specialists, and it was not known worldwide. About 15 years later, in Chicago, two graduate students of the Department of Mathematical Chemistry Kurzen and Albren repeated the calculations of the Soviet scientist, and it was their work that became well known.

Note that the seminar “Problems, Methods and Results of Optimization Thermodynamics” was organized by the Laboratory of Multiscale Mathematical Modeling of UrFU together with the Institute of Program Systems of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IPS RAS, Pereslavl-Zalessky). Ivan Sukin, an engineer from the Research Center for System Analysis at the Institute of Software Systems RAS, also took part in the seminar.

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