Dissipative Systems

Home/Dissipative Systems

A dissipative system is a thermodynamically open system which is operating out of, and often far from, thermodynamic equilibrium in an environment with which it exchanges energy and matter.  Dissipative structures are open systems, they need a continual input of free energy from the environment in order to maintain the capacity to do ‘work’. It is this continual flux of energy, into and out of a dissipative structure, which leads towards self­-organization and ultimately the ability to function at a state of non-equilibrium. A famous example of a self-­organizing, dissipative structure is the spontaneous organization of water due to convection. As heat is transferred through the liquid, a patterned hexagonal or ‘honeycomb’ shape emerges called Bénard cells and the capacity to do ‘work’ is realized. But, as soon as the energy source to the heat is taken away, the ordered pattern disappears and the water returns to an equilibrium state. Other examples of dissipative systems include turbulent flows, cyclones, hurricanes, lasers and all forms of living organisms.

2016-10-14T15:52:27+00:00