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Difference Between Isothermal and Adiabatic Process

Last updated date: 04th Dec 2023
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What is Isothermal and Adiabatic Process: Introduction

We can now comprehend the difference between adiabatic and isothermal:

The behavior of a thermodynamic system and its relationship to temperature changes are described by the ideas of the isothermal process, isochoric process, isobaric process, and adiabatic process in thermodynamics.


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Difference Between Isothermal and Adiabatic Process

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Chapter-wise Difference Between Topics

An isothermal process is one that takes place when the system's temperature remains constant but other parameters (such as volume and pressure) can be altered to suit the needs of the process.


An adiabatically operating process is one that ignores its environment. No heat is transferred from a system to its surroundings during this procedure. Here, the system's temperature can change to prevent any heat transfer.

Explain Isothermal and Adiabatic Process

Isothermal process

A thermodynamic process known as an isothermal process keeps the system's temperature constant. Because heat is transferred into or out of the system so slowly, thermal equilibrium is preserved. The term "isothermal process" refers to a substance, an item, or a system changing at a specific constant temperature.

Examples of Isothermal Process:

A few examples of an isothermal process are given below.

  • The isothermal process, which includes melting and evaporation, can change the state or phase of many liquids.

  • The Carnot engine is one instance of an industrial application of the isothermal process. Some of the cycles in this engine are completed isothermally.

  • Isothermal operation governs a refrigerator. The refrigerator's mechanism undergoes a number of alterations, yet the inside temperature doesn't vary. The heat energy is dissipated and delivered to the environment here.

  • The heat pump is another illustration of an isothermal process. Either the heat is drawn in from the outside to warm the house or it is taken from the house and discharged outside. The objective is to maintain the house at the desired temperature in both scenarios.

Adiabatic Process:

The thermodynamic process in which neither during expansion nor compression does heat from the system transfer to its surroundings is known as Adiabatic Process.

Either the adiabatic process is reversible or it is irreversible. The following are prerequisites for the adiabatic process to occur: The system needs to be completely sealed off from its surroundings.

In order for heat transmission to have enough time to occur, the procedure must be completed rapidly.

Examples of Adiabatic Process:

A few examples of an adiabatic process are given below.

  • It is a procedure where heat is produced as a gas is compressed. The release of air from a pneumatic tyre would be one of the most straightforward instances.

  • The term "adiabatic efficiency" refers to components like nozzles, compressors, and turbines. One of the good applications of the adiabatic process.

  • An illustration of it is the oscillation of a pendulum in a vertical plane.

  • An adiabatic system can also include a quantum harmonic oscillator.

  • No heat escapes or enters the icebox when we fill it with ice.

Characteristics of Isothermal and Adiabatic Process

Isothermal Process:

  • Isothermal change refers to a change in a gas's pressure and volume while maintaining a constant temperature.

  • The essential heat is either given or removed in this change.

  • It moves along pretty slowly.

  • The container should have good thermal conductivity in this change.

  • The container's surroundings should all have a very high thermal capacity.

  • PV = constant, which is Boyle's law for isothermal change.

  • Comparatively speaking, the isothermal curve is less steep.

Adiabatic Process:

  • A gas's pressure and volume can fluctuate while maintaining its overall volume, a process known as adiabatic change.

  • The temperature varies with this change.

  • It moves along really quickly.

  • The container should be a poor conductor in this transition.

  • Low heat conductivity should characterize the environment.

  • The equation for adiabatic change for an ideal gas is PVY = constant.

  • The isothermal curve is less steep than the adiabatic curve.

Isothermal and Adiabatic Process Difference

Following is the table explaining the isothermal and adiabatic process:



Isothermal Process

Adiabatic Process



A thermodynamic process that takes place at a constant temperature is known as an isothermal process.

One of the thermodynamic processes that doesn't involve any heat transfer between the system and its surroundings is known as an adiabatic process.


Rate of work accomplished

Work is accomplished as a result of the system's net heat content changing.

Work is accomplished as a result of its internal energy changing.



No changes in temperature are possible.

There is a range of temperature


Heat Transfer

There is a heat transfer.

There is no heat transmission.


Rate of transformation

The transformation flow is slower in the isothermal process.

The transformation flow is faster in the adiabatic process.


When studying systems and objects in thermodynamics, we measure their temperatures, movements, and other physical properties. This holds true for everything in the universe, including single-celled animals and mechanical systems. So, we can think of thermodynamics as the field of physics that deals specifically with the interactions between heat energy and other types of energy. It also explains how thermal energy is changed into other types of energy and how that changes matter. The isothermal process and the adiabatic process are two extremely significant processes in this regard.

FAQs on Difference Between Isothermal and Adiabatic Process

1. How will the system's heat content fluctuate at a constant temperature?

A temperature gradient must be present in order to adjust the heat content. It implies that even while the system will maintain a constant temperature, it may nevertheless reject or admit heat depending on the environment's temperature.

2. How does the system temperature change while the heat content is constant?

The system's temperature will vary as a result of the work that has been done on it, even if heat hasn't been added to or taken away from it.  Heat and temperature are two distinct concepts. Heat is the energy that is in motion, while temperature is a system attribute like pressure and volume.

3. The gas experiences _____ if a cylinder housing it at high pressure explodes.

When a high-pressure gas cylinder explodes, the gas experiences an irreversible adiabatic shift and temperature drop.

4. What is the Adiabatic process?

A thermodynamic process known as adiabatic means that no heat is transferred into or out of the system. For an ideal gas, an adiabatic process is a reversible process with constant entropy. The adiabatic process is mathematically represented by the expression Q=0.

5. What are the conditions needed for an isothermal process?

In this procedure, the system must be worked on slowly and with care so that the system's temperature doesn't fluctuate.

6. Define Isothermal Process and Adiabatic Process.

An isothermal process occurs when the system's temperature stays constant but its pressure and volume can change. There is no heat transfer and the internal energy is constant in an adiabatic operation.

7. In which process the temperature is constant, but heat transfer takes place?

An isothermal process is one in which heat transfer occurs but the temperature remains constant.

8. Which procedure does not maintain a steady temperature and does not involve the transfer of heat?

A process known as an adiabatic process is one in which temperature fluctuates and there is no heat transfer.

9. Which method isolates the system from its surroundings?

An adiabatic process isolates the environment and the system in order to stop any heat exchange.