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Question 9: What were the basic questions that led Carnot to invent Carnot Engine?


A cyclic heat engine is a device that uses heat to do some useful work and rejects the remaining portion to the sink.
In most cases, the hot reservoir is the burning fuel and the sink (cold reservoir) is the surrounding atmosphere. This shows the efficiency of a heat engine can never be 100%.

Sadi Carnot was a French engineer. In 1824, he considered a hypothetical heat engine free from all sort of heat losses. It is called ‘Carnot heat engine’.
Sadi Carnot was led to his hypothetical heat engine by two basic questions.

  1. If a heat engine is operating between two heat reservoirs, then what should be the maximum efficiency obtained from it?
  2. What would be the possible mechanism to improve the efficiency of a heat engine?

He argued that no heat engine could be more efficient than a Carnot heat engine, and, the efficiency of a heat engine can be improved by increasing the temperature of the HTR or reducing the temperature of the LTR, or doing both.

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