Despite its idealizations, thermodynamics has proven its power as a predictive theory for practical applications. In particular, the Curzon–Ahlborn efficiency provides a benchmark for any real engine operating at maximal power. Here we further develop the analysis of endoreversible Otto engines. For a generic class of working mediums, whose internal energy is proportional to some power of the temperature, we find that no engine can achieve the Carnot efficiency at finite power. However, we also find that for the specific example of photonic engines the efficiency at maximal power is higher than the Curzon–Ahlborn efficiency.
Funding source: Foundational Questions Institute
Award Identifier / Grant number: FQXi-RFP-1808
Funding statement: This research was supported by the Foundational Questions Institute (grant number FQXi-RFP-1808) and the Fetzer Franklin Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
This work was conducted as part of the Undergraduate Research Program (Z.S.) in the Department of Physics at UMBC.
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