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J. W. Hill, R. H. Petrucci, T. W. McCreary, & S. S. Perry General Chemistry 4th edition

Problem 17.28

Based on a consideration of entropy changes, why is it so difficult to eliminate environmental pollution such as the contamination of groundwater with water-soluble methyl tert-butyl ether?






Answer:

Pollution is caused by random and widespread disposal of items, a high entropy situation. To eliminate pollution, the reverse process must be invoked, so that the entropy of the system now becomes negative, which requires and large positive entropy change for the surroundings and a large energy input.