Sadi Carnot

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Sadi Carnot, renowned as the “Father of Thermodynamics,” is credited with developing the first successful theoretical account of a heat engine, which is now known as the Carnot cycle. Carnot, a man on a purpose, did not let his early life’s upheaval and instability overshadow his living. Carnot efficiency, Carnot theorem, and the Carnot heat engine are among the concepts attributed to him. Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, his book, is credited with laying the groundwork for the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot’s concept of the idealized heat engine resulted in the development of a quantifiable thermodynamic system, paving the way for many subsequent discoveries. Continue reading to learn more about the life of this brilliant scientist and engineer.

Childhood and Adolescence

Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot was known by his third given name, Sadi, after the Persian poet Sadi of Shiraz. Lazare Nicholas Marguerite Carnot, his father, was a renowned military captain and geometer. Carnot’s childhood was a tumultuous one, filled with upheaval and strife.

With his father first being deported, then returning to be appointed as Napoleon’s minister of war, and later being forced to resign, the family suffered financially. Sadi Carnot’s life finally began to improve in 1812, when he enrolled at the École Polytechnique.

The faculty list at the institute, which was known for its extraordinary education, included names like Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, Siméon Denis Poisson, and André-Marie Ampère. As a result, Carnot’s time at the institute shaped the rest of his life.

Carnot joined the French army as an officer and remained there until 1814. He graduated from École Polytechnique the same year and then moved on to École du Génie at Metz for a two-year study in military engineering. Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, only to be defeated the next year.

Senior Carnot, who had been named Minister of the Interior, was quickly deported, forcing him to relocate to Germany and never return to France. In Germany, his younger son, Hippolyte Carnot, kept him company. Sadi Carnot, on the other hand, was dissatisfied with his professional life at the moment.

His proposals were disregarded and ignored, despite the fact that he was in charge of inspecting defenses, putting up plans, and submitting reports.

Carnot took an examination to join the newly founded General Staff Corps in Paris in 1819 due to his lack of promotion and inability to find a profession that would allow him to put his expertise to good use. Fortunately, he passed the exam and was hired.

Carnot began taking classes at different universities in Paris at this time, including the Sorbonne and the Collège de France. His interest in industrial problems intensified at this time, and he began to study gas theory. One of the most significant incidents in Carnot’s life occurred in 1821 when he paid a visit to his father in his exiled house in Magdeburg.

The first steam engine had arrived in Magdeburg three years before, and it had piqued Lazare Carnot’s interest to the point where he told his son about it. The father-son duo spent most of the day talking about steam engines and how they work. Carnot returned to Paris, inspired and elated, with the goal of devising a theory for the steam engine.

A Later Years

His efforts to construct a theory for steam engines resulted in the discovery of the mathematical theory of heat, which aided in the development of contemporary thermodynamics. Until then, no research has uncovered the operation’s core scientific foundations.

The caloric theory, according to most scientists, stated that heat was an unseen liquid that flowed when it was out of balance. Carnot sought to apply his expertise to help steam engines run more efficiently. In 1822-1823, he wrote his first important work, a paper.

It included a mathematical calculation for the amount of effort one kilogram of steam produces. This paper, however, was never published and was only discovered in manuscript form in 1966.

After Lazare Carnot’s death in 1823, Hippolyte Carnot returned to Paris and assisted Sadi Carnot, who was working on a book about steam engines at the time. First, whether the power of heat had an upper limit, and second, whether there was a better way to generate this power than steam.

Carnot’s book, Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres a développer cette puissance, was published in 1824. (Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire). The book detailed his findings and provided a well-thought-out theoretical explanation for the ideal heat engine, now known as the Carnot cycle.

Reflections on the Motive Power

While the book covered a wide range of heat engine subjects, the most essential section was devoted to an abstract presentation of an idealized engine that could be used to explain and illustrate the underlying concepts that apply to all heat engines, regardless of their design.

Carnot’s simplification of the main elements of the steam engine is arguably his most important contribution to thermodynamics. The same resulted in a model thermodynamic system that could be used to make precise calculations.

The Carnot cycle is one of the most efficient engines available, as it not only eliminates friction and other inefficient processes but also assumes no heat transfer between elements of the engine that are at different temperatures.

Carnot understood that heat conduction between bodies at various temperatures is a wasteful and irreversible process that must be avoided if the heat engine is to be as efficient as possible.

In response to the second question, he was positive that the level of maximum efficiency was unaffected by the working fluid’s composition. He anticipated that an idealized engine’s efficiency was only determined by the temperature of its hottest and coldest portions, not by the substance that drove the mechanism.

In his work, Carnot also established the concept of reversibility, which stated that motive force could be utilized to generate a temperature differential in the engine, later known as thermodynamic reversibility. This was an early version of the second law of thermodynamics, however, it was expressed in terms of caloric rather than entropy.

Though Sadi Carnot’s book received rave reviews upon its initial publication, it was not until Clapeyron published an analytic reformulation of it in 1834 that it gained widespread recognition. Carnot’s theories were later incorporated into Clausius and Thomson’s thermodynamic theory.

Sadi Carnot’s Death

Carnot died as a result of a cholera pandemic in 1832. Because of the sickness’s contagious nature, many of Carnot’s belongings and works were buried with him to prevent the disease from spreading. Only a small number of Carnot’s scientific papers have survived as a result of this.

Estimated Net worth

Unknown.