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

What Are the Limitations of Covalent & Metallic Lattices?
What Happens When Gas Is Heated?
Why Does Sugar Affect the Freezing Point of Water?
Describe the Formation of Both Positive & Negative...
How to Make a Supersaturated Solution
How to Calculate a Final Temperature
What Makes an Ice Cube Melt?
Simple Chemical Reactions in Fireworks
Chemical Vs. Physical Reactions
What Happens to Chemical Bonds During Chemical Reactions
How to Calculate Particle Concentration
Forms of Energy When Launching a Water Bottle Rocket
How to Calculate Heat Absorbed by the Solution
What Happens When Ice Is Added to Hot Water and How...
Different Ways to Melt Ice Cubes
The Difference Between Atoms, Ions, Molecules and...
How Do Van Der Waals Forces Hold Molecules Together?
Ice Cubes Melting Process

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!