David A. Kofke, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Buffalo, 303 Furnas Hall, SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260
The laws of thermodynamics emerge from the molecular basis of matter, but one of the strengths of thermodynamics is that it needn't acknowledge the existence of molecules to quantify the behavior that results from molecular interactions. Nevertheless it can be difficult to gain an intuitive understanding of thermodynamics, and to make predictions about new systems, without a molecular understanding. Molecular concepts are becoming all the more relevant the with growth of nano- and bio-technology as key elements of chemical engineering. Thus there can be significant benefits to including molecular concepts in chemical thermodynamics education. The challenge is to accomplish this without greatly diluting the treatment of traditional and proven thermodynamics methods. This presentation will describe past, present, and future roles of molecular concepts in thermodynamics education.