Isolated systems can be defined as systems that prohibit any exchange of mass and energy between the system and the surroundings. In simple words, the mass of matter in an isolated system remains fixed and can not easily cross the boundaries of the system. Also, an isolated system does not allow any transformation and conversion of energy from one form to the other. The walls or boundaries of an isolated system are rigid and immovable and there exists no interaction between the system and the surroundings; however, the matter particles contained within the system are free to interact with each other. Isolated systems can be used to maintain the equilibrium state of a system. The concept of open, closed, and isolated systems has been derived from the branch of science called thermodynamics. Thermodynamics mainly deals with the study of the flow of different physical and chemical quantities such as heat, mass, fluid, momentum, composition, equilibrium, etc. within or through a system that is operated and controlled with the help of thermodynamic forces. According to thermodynamics, the universe can be broadly divided into two parts, namely, the system and the surrounding. The part of the universe that is kept under observation or is being analysed at a particular moment of time is called the system, while all the objects present in the universe excluding the system are known as surroundings. The system is separated from the surroundings with the help of a system boundary that can be either fixed or moving by nature depending on the type of the system.
Examples of Isolated System
There are a variety of daily use applications that tend to employ and demonstrate the concept of isolated systems for their basic operations in real life. A few examples of such applications are given below:
1. Inflated Balloon
A balloon filled with air that is properly tied up on the end tends to form a prominent example of an isolated system as the elastic surface of the balloon prohibits the matter from entering or exiting the system and there exist negligible or no chances of energy exchange between the system and the surroundings. The boundary of the system in this case is rigid and flexible in nature, which acts as a separating layer or barrier between the system and the surrounding.
2. Thermos Flask
A thermos flask is a storage vessel or container that is typically used to store hot as well as cold fluids and maintain the temperature of the matter placed inside its container to an ambient value for a significantly longer duration of time. Thermos flask was invented by Sir James Dewar, a British chemist and physicist in 1892. Earlier, a thermos flask was known as the dewar bottle or dewar flask on the name of its inventor. The structure of a thermos flask primarily consists of a double-walled container. A vacuum is created between the two walls by thoroughly sucking out the air present between them during construction. The vacuum created as a result refrains the heat to enter as well as escape the system. Also, the rigid boundary or the structure of the thermos flask prohibits the flow of matter from the surroundings into the system and from the system into the surroundings. This implies that a thermos flask is an application that can be easily listed under the category of isolated systems. A thermos flask is also known as a vacuum flask.
3. Air Tight Container
An airtight container tends to form yet another example of an isolated system. Airtight containers typically contain a rubber or silicon coating attached to the base of the container lid that properly closes the container and prohibits the movement of matter from the surrounding into the system and vice versa. Also, the communication of energy between the system and surroundings of an airtight container is negligible, and hence can be neglected.