What Are Examples of an Increase in Entropy?

Heat and molecular agitation indicate an increase in a system's entropy.
••• John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The entropy of a chemical system depends on its energy and its multiplicity, or how many different ways its atoms and molecules can be arranged. By adding new arrangements or energy, you increase entropy. A diamond, for example, has low entropy because the crystal structure fixes its atoms in place. If you smash the diamond, entropy increases because the original, single crystal becomes hundreds of tiny pieces that can be rearranged in many ways.

Examples from Chemistry

Burning wood illustrates an increase in entropy. The wood starts as a single, solid object. Fire consumes the wood, releasing energy along with carbon dioxide and water vapor, and leaving a pile of ashes. The atoms in the vapors and gases vibrate energetically, spreading out in an ever-expanding cloud. Dissolving salt in water is another example of increasing entropy; the salt begins as fixed crystals, and the water splits away the sodium and chlorine atoms in the salt into separate ions, moving freely with water molecules. A chunk of ice has low entropy because its molecules are frozen in place. Add heat energy and entropy increases. The ice turns to water, and its molecules agitate like popcorn in a popper.

Related Articles

Why Does Sugar Affect the Freezing Point of Water?
Ice Cubes Melting Process
How to Make a Supersaturated Solution
How to Calculate a Final Temperature
What Are the Limitations of Covalent & Metallic Lattices?
How to Calculate Joules of Heat
How to Calculate Heat Absorbed by the Solution
Forms of Energy When Launching a Water Bottle Rocket
If Something Fizzes Does It Mean That It Is Giving...
Simple Chemical Reactions in Fireworks
The Difference Between Hot & Cold Molecules
How to Calculate Particle Concentration
Easy and Fun Chemical Reaction Experiments
How to Calculate Heat of Sublimation
10 Types of Physical Change
What Phase Changes Are Exothermic & Endothermic?
The Solid, Liquid & Gas Phases of Matter
How to Calculate the Amount of Heat Transferred
What Makes an Ice Cube Melt?

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!