13/11/2020: Introduction to thermodynamics

What is the idea behind thermodynamics?

Materials change (concepts: component, phases, mixtures, activities) and materials react (concepts: enthalpy, equilibrium, solubility). How they change and react can be calculated based on thermodynamic principles which determine how reactions proceed, how processes behave and how a final structure looks like. Starting from the laws of thermodynamics, phase stability is explained. Important concepts as Gibbs free energy, enthalpy, entropy, phase rule of Gibbs are discussed. The link to important properties in metallurgy, such as solubility, melting point, and precipitation is made. The course provides both the mathematical formulae as well as it attempts to create a feeling of ‘common sense’ principles derived from the basic laws. During the last hour of this course industrial examples are tackled to establish the connection between industrial reality and the theory of thermodynamics.


  • 09.00: Registration
  • 09.30: What is the idea behind thermodynamics?
    • Materials change (concepts: component, phase, mixture, activity)
    • Materials react (concepts: enthalpy, equilibrium, solubility)
    • Thermodynamics as a consistent description (Gibbs energy) usable in software
  • 11.30: Calculation of phase diagrams, reactions and processes
  • 12.30: Sandwich lunch
  • 13.30: Visualisation of thermodynamics
    • Comparison of stability of different compounds
    • Comparison of affinity for oxygen
    • Comparison of vapour pressure
    • Change of phase fractions as a function of a process parameter
    • Change of composition of a phase as a function of a process parameter
    • Change of melting temperature as a function of composition
  • 15.00: Industrial examples
    • Phase formation – precipitates in steel, dross in lead refining
    • Heat balance – Addition of scrap to liquid steel, lead, or copper
    • Exploring feasibility – can we reduce Al2O3 with C? Can we make nickel from stainless steel?
    • …- your suggestions!
  • 15.45: Opportunity for discussion


After the course the participants should be able to link materials reactions to the corresponding thermodynamic description, and to interpret literature graphs and tables in terms of their process.


The course will tackle the theory of the topics listed above and several exercises will be made to ensure that everything was understood. It is advisable to bring a pencil, ruler, and calculator.

Who should attend

The course will be given in English and aims at people active in the metal processing industry. The course can be a refreshment of the metallurgical principles for engineers, or give hands-on metallurgists a solid theoretical background.


450 € per person per day (excl. VAT)
1950 € per person for the full course program (5 days) (excl. VAT)

WhenFriday 13 November 2020
Registration deadlineMonday 2 November 2020 (cancellation is possible before this date)
Participantsmin. 6 – max. 12
LocationInsPyro, I&I Leuven, Kapeldreef 60, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
RegistrationBy email: Els.Nagels@inspyro.be
By phone: +32/16.298.492 (Els Nagels)
or through the form on this page


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