Difference between open, closed and isolated system

To understand what is Difference Between Open Closed And Isolated System, we must first understand what we mean by “system”. As defined by the dictionary, “a system is a set of ordered and interrelated things that contribute to a purpose” .

That is to say, that a system is an organized whole, a notion that applies both to certain sets of body organs, or to the entirety of a natural ecosystem, as well as to different phenomena and air temperatures in the atmosphere. Any segment of the universe that we decide to study in itself, ignoring the rest and focusing on its internal relationships, is a system.

Difference Between Open, Closed And Isolated System

This notion is extremely useful in physics, since through a systemic view we can identify the energetic and material phenomena that occur around us.

Thus, it is common to speak of physical systems, such as thermodynamic systems , in which there is an internal flow of matter and energy , which may be more or less linked to the environment.

That is, a system can be more open or more closed, depending on how much information enters and leaves it . The information that circulates can be, for example, matter and/or energy.

What is the Difference Between Open Closed And Isolated System?

Thus, we have three main types of physical systems: open, closed, and isolated.


Open, closed and isolated system concept

1. open systems

They are those that freely exchange matter and energy with the outside . For example, our bodies themselves are systems in continuous exchange with the environment: oxygen and food enter them, and waste substances are expelled, such as CO 2 or ammonia from urine.

example of open system

Additionally, we continually lose heat when the environment is colder, and we lose moisture ( water vapor ) with each breath we take.

2. closed systems

They are those that freely exchange energy (but not matter) with their environment . This energy can be in the form of heat , light or work.

example of closed system

For example, a light bulb is a closed system in which not a single particle of matter enters or leaves, but electricity enters and light energy is extracted in return.

3. Isolated systems

They are those that do not exchange matter or energy with the environment , either because they are very far from any other system or because they have barriers that reduce (or, ideally, prevent) the transit between inside and outside.

example of isolated system

For example, a thermos for hot water is designed to delay as much as possible (preventing it completely is impossible) the cooling of the liquids inside, thus minimizing the loss of heat from the substance.

We must insist that there is no strictly isolated system in the universe. All systems exchange information to some extent with their environment, although in some cases in negligible amounts or simply in such a way that it can be ignored for the study of the system itself.

Conclusion Points:

  • An Open System can exchange mass and energy (sometimes in the form of heat with its surrounding).
  • closed system allows the transfer of energy but no the mass.
  • An isolated system does not allow the transfer of either mass or energy.

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