Open systems can be defined as the systems that are capable of transmitting and receiving mass as well as energy into and from the surroundings respectively. In simple words, the mass of matter in an open system is not fixed and can easily cross the boundaries of the system. Open systems are also known as control volume systems or flow systems. 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.
Examples of Open System
There are a variety of daily use applications that tend to employ and demonstrate the concept of open systems for their basic operations in real life. A few examples of such applications are given below:
1. Living Being’s Body
A living being’s body serves to be a classic example of an open system in real life. This is because the body of a human, animal, bird, insect or any other living organism can take in and release energy as well as matter in many forms. For instance, the energy that generally gets developed by eating food enters the body as chemical energy and can be released in the form of heat energy through sweat. Likewise, matter can enter and exit the living being’s body in multiple formats.
2. Air Compressor
An air compressor or any other type of compressor typically contains an inlet valve and an outlet valve through which the fluid tends to enter and exit the system or simply flows through the structure of the device. This means that the matter and energy elements can flexibly enter or exit the system, hence air compressors or compressor devices can be classified under the open systems category of systems.
A turbine is basically a rotatory mechanical device that is used to convert energy from one form to the other. The rotor blade of a traditional turbine is usually placed under fluids such as water, steam, gas, air, etc. moving with a relatively fast velocity. The motion of the fluids causes the turbine blades to rotate. The mechanical energy induced into the turbine blades gets further coupled to a generator device. The generator device finally performs the final part of the energy translation process and converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy. The energy and matter easily flowing into and through the system make the turbine-based energy generation systems or simply turbines yet another example of open systems in real life.
4. Automobile Engines
The engines of all automobile vehicles are capable of exchanging matter and energy between various systems and surroundings in the form of gases, vapours, water, steam, and other products, hence automobile engines form a prime example of open systems used in our general life.
5. Soup Boiling in an Open Cooking Pan
Soup boiling in an open cooking pan is one of the best demonstrations of open systems in real life. When the cooking pan is placed on the top of a lighted burner, it gets supplied with heat energy. The heat energy from the burner then gets coupled to the ingredients present within the pan, thereby causing the molecules of the soup to exhibit Brownian motion and increase the magnitude of kinetic energy possessed by them. Also, the air present in the surroundings can easily enter the cooking pan and some portion of the soup contained in the cooking pan may get evaporated and enter the surroundings during the process. The exchange of matter and energy among systems and surroundings is the reason why such a system can be listed under the open systems category of systems.
6. Beaker Filled with Water
Water or any substance that is simply placed in a beaker that has no lid or covering forms a system that allows easy exchange of matter and energy between the system and surroundings in various forms, hence it constitutes yet another example of open systems present in our everyday life.
7. Water Bodies
Flowing water bodies such as rivers, lakes, waterfalls, seas, etc. are yet another example of open systems present around us as such systems can easily receive matter and energy from the surroundings and are also able to flexibly transmit matter and energy into the surroundings.
Sun is a massive celestial body present in outer space that is primarily composed of Helium atoms and serves to be one of the prime sources of energy for mankind. The helium atoms present in the internal structure of the sun tend to undergo a series of multiple nuclear reactions that causes the sun to radiate heat energy in the surroundings. Also, the energy generation process of the sun requires an exchange of electrons and photons between the system and its surroundings. This justifies the ability of the sun to flexibly exchange matter and energy with the surroundings and qualifies it to be listed under the category of open systems.
A refrigerator is a consumer electronic gadget or device that is primarily used to provide a cool and ambient temperature to food items. Refrigerators tend to form yet another example of an open system in real life as they radiate heat energy in the surroundings and circulate coolant or cooling fluid inside the coils of the device to maintain the cool atmosphere, which justifies the property of open systems to easily exchange energy to and from the surroundings. Also, one can easily exchange materials between the refrigerator system and the surroundings, thereby verifying the ability of an open system refrigerator to store and extract matter in and from the system respectively.
10. Drainage Basin
The flow of water into the system of the basin from the water tap, i.e., the surroundings and the flow of water from the basin sink or the system through the outlet pipe into the surroundings explain the exchange of matter between the system and surroundings. This justifies the first property of an open system. Likewise, the change of energy possessed by the fluid from one form to another during the process and the exchange of energy between the system and the surrounding verifies the second property of the open systems. For these reasons, a drainage basin can be considered to be yet another example of daily life applications that tend to employ the concept of an open system for their basic operation.
All the systems that exist on or within the Earth’s surface are considered to be open systems as the energy and matter present in the environment or surroundings tend to flow into and out of all systems present on or inside the earth quite easily and flexibly.
Fans are machines that are mainly used to divert or direct the flow of air in a particular direction or to circulate air in the surroundings. Usually, there are two types of fans available in the market, namely manual and automatic fans. The automatic fans obtain their operation power through different energy sources. Mostly, automatic fans tend to work with the help of electrical energy and manual or hand fans make use of mechanical energy for their operation. Fans are considered to be yet another example of open systems used in our daily life as they allow the exchange of energy as well as a matter between the system and the surroundings.
Plants fall under the category of open systems because while executing the photosynthesis process, a plant tends to intake carbon dioxide and sunlight and emit oxygen into the environment causing the light energy to get transformed into chemical energy, thereby signifying the exchange of matter as well as energy between the system and the surroundings.
The system of lava formation and eruption of volcanoes forms yet another example of open systems. This is because here, matter and energy can flexibly move back and forth between the system and surroundings. For instance, the particles of matter such as air, water, stones, and other particles enter and leave the system or the volcano with ease and lead to the formation of lava. Likewise, the conversion of energy can be observed in various formats in such systems such as the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy that takes place during a volcanic eruption.
15. Chargers and Adapters
Chargers and adapters perfectly demonstrate and utilize the concept of open systems in real life as a charger device or equipment generally couples the electrical energy obtained by the power system to the battery, thereby causing the conversion of energy from electrical form to chemical form. Also, the transfer of energy-carrying particles, primarily electrons, between the power supply, charger device, and the gadget plugged in for charging indicates the exchange of matter among the system and the surroundings.
16. FAX Machine
A fax machine is a communication device that can be used to transform the message contained in a text document into an electronic format and transmit it over a communication channel to the receiver side. On the receiver’s end, another FAX machine is used for the reconstruction of the input signal by retrieving the information or message received in the form of an electronic signal, converting it into a textual form, and printing it on a piece of paper. This means that the system used by a FAX machine can exchange matter as well as energy with the environment, hence it is also another example of an open system.
17. Heating Devices
Heating devices are open systems that typically convert electrical energy into heat energy. Here, the energy can flexibly flow between the system and the surrounding. The resultant heat energy can either be radiated into the environment directly or can be linked to an output device or a secondary system, thereby demonstrating the transfer of matter from system to surroundings and vice versa.
18. Bread Toaster
A toaster device can take raw slices of bread as input and produce heated bread pieces as output. Such devices and gadgets basically work on the principle of conversion of energy from electrical form to thermal form. These two prime characteristics of a bread toaster can conclusively tell about the ability of the system to exchange matter as well as energy with the surroundings, thereby classifying the bread toaster under the category of open systems.
19. Burning Candle
A burning candle tends to form yet another example of the systems that rely on the basic characteristics of open systems for their operation. Here, the property by virtue of which an open system tends to easily exchange with the surroundings can be demonstrated easily by observing the conversion of heat energy into light energy. In a similar manner, the flame of the burning candle indicates the easy exchange of matter among the system and surroundings as the process of combustion involves an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules.
20. Tubes and Pipe
Various agricultural, industrial, domestic, research, and commercial applications make use of a network of tubes and pipes to circulate fluid from one end of the system to the other. This particular system of fluid exchange from the source to the destination and vice versa forms yet another example of open systems used in our daily life.
21. Juicer Machines
Juicer machines typically take raw fruits and vegetables as input, pass them through a mechanical system for processing and output the extracted juice. The system used by juicer machines is a prominent example of an open system as it makes use of the exchange of matter as well as energy from the system to surroundings and vice versa. Usually, there are two types of juicer machines available in the market, namely manual and automatic. The mechanical juicer machines tend to convert mechanical energy into kinetic energy, while the atomic juicer machines typically convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. Here, the matter exchanged among system and surroundings include fruits, vegetables, water, air, etc.
22. Air Blowers
Air blowers can be used in a variety of applications such as to blow leaves away, dry wet hair and other objects, inflate balloons, etc. Air blowers tend to form one of the perfect examples of open systems as they enable the exchange of matter between the system and surroundings and demonstrate the conversion of the potential energy contained by the stationary air molecules into kinetic energy.
23. Wind Energy Farms
Wind energy is a non-conventional or renewable source of energy. A wind energy farm basically comprises numerous windmills attached to a power generator that tend to convert the kinetic energy possessed by the wind into electrical energy. The electrical energy so produced is further coupled to the power substations for domestic and commercial use. Since the mechanism of a wind energy farm or simply windmills support the exchange of both matter particles as well as energy between the system and surroundings, the system is listed under the open systems category.
A fountain is yet another example of an open system. The working of a fountain basically relies on the function of a water pump. When water is poured into a fountain structure, the pump tends to pass pressure to the water molecules, thereby causing the water to form creative patterns as per the structure of the fountain. The conversion between potential energy possessed by the water molecules into kinetic energy can be demonstrated easily with the help of a functioning water fountain.
25. Gas Stove
A gas stove forms a classic example of the systems used in our daily life that rely on the concept of an open system for their fundamental operation. A gas stove basically helps convert the chemical energy possessed by the fuel into the form of heat energy. The heat energy so produced can be further used to heat objects and cook food. Here, the transfer of energy and mass that takes place from system to surroundings as well as from surroundings to the system can be noticed easily, thereby justifying the application of the concept of the open system.
26. Piston Cylinder Arrangements with Valve
A piston-cylinder arrangement with valves is considered to be an open system as it supports the exchange of matter particles as well as energy between the system and the surroundings. Some of the prime applications of piston valves include steam engines, power plants, paper mills, refineries, etc. In such applications, a piston-cylinder arrangement with valves is specifically used to control the flow of superheated steam and hot water from the system to the surroundings and vice versa.
27. Fountain Pens
Fountain pens are a classic example of open systems in real life. A fountain pen typically works on the principle of capillarity. Capillarity can be defined as the process by virtue of which a liquid tends to spontaneously rise or fall in a narrow tube-like structure as a result of surface tension depending on the attraction between the molecules of the fluid. Here, the flow of ink within the pen and from the pen to the paper represents the exchange of matter from system to surroundings and vice versa. Similarly, the conversion of energy from potential form to kinetic form can also be demonstrated in real life with the help of a fountain pen.
28. Nozzles and Diffusers
Nozzles and diffusers are the devices that are typically used to vary the flow velocity of the fluids and the pressure exerted by the fluid. A nozzle has a broader inlet end as compared to the outlet and is generally used to increase the velocity of the fluid and decrease the pressure exhibited by it. On the contrary, a diffuser has a broader outlet end and a narrow inlet end. A diffuser device is usually employed in applications where low flow velocity of the fluid and high-pressure value is expected. Both the devices demonstrate the transformation of potential energy into kinetic energy in real life and allow the exchange of matter between the system and surroundings, thereby can be listed under the category of open systems.
Showers tend to form yet another example of real-life applications that employ the concept of open systems. This is because the internal mechanism of a shower allows the flow of matter as well as energy between the system and the surroundings.
30. Throttling Devices
Throttling devices is a generic term given to the devices that tend to dissipate pressure energy into the environment and tend to convert the input pressure energy into the form of thermal energy in such a way that the resultant energy is irreversible in nature. A number of throttling devices such as a throttling calorimeter, throttling valve, etc. serve to be prominent examples of open systems used in real life. The implementation of the open system concept in such applications allows the user to have full control over the exchange of matter and energy from the system to the surroundings and vice versa.
31. Heat Exchangers
Various heat exchanger devices such as heat transfer fins, automobile radiators, electrical heat sinks, etc. employ the concept of open systems for their prime operation and working.
32. Scuba Diving Air Tank
Scuba diving tanks are typically filled with a mixture of breathable gases and are attached to a compressor. The compressor tends to suck the air through an air filter and compress it down. The compressed air is further passed as an output of the system. The flow of matter from a scuba diving air tank system to the surroundings and vice versa and the conversion of energy from one form to another qualify it to be listed under the category of open systems.
33. Shaft Work Machines
Shaft work machines are the devices that mainly function to generate an output that can be coupled to drive a shaft of a machine by inducing reciprocating motion into it. Some of the common examples of shaft work machines include pneumatic compressors, hydraulic pumps, electric motors, generators, combustion engines, etc. Almost all shaft work machines come under the category of open systems as they deal with a continuous or periodic flow of matter from system to surroundings and exhibit or demonstrate the change of energy from one form to the other.