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

Review Question 17.5

Why is the entropy change in a system not always a reliable predictor of whether the process producing the change is spontaneous?


The second law states that a process is spontaneous if the system and the surroundings have an increase in entropy. Thus, even is a given system has a decrease in entropy (suggesting nonspontaneity), if there is sufficient increase in the entropy of the surroundings then the process can be spontaneous.