The World of Complete Disorder
First note the size of the jet escaping from the Papin safety valve, this jet dissipates in the atmospheric surrounding environment.
This supersonic jet is what Ilya Prigogine called a “dissipative structure” in order to associate the two ideas of order and disorder, which are intimately linked. These dissipative structures exchange matter and energy with the surrounding environment, allowing these dissipative structures to remain as they are, so long as the jet continues to flow.
When we add a pipe downstream of a valve to recover the fluid, the supersonic jet is no longer a free jet; it is now confined. The jet will struggle inside the pipe and will degrade its kinetic energy in whatever manner possible – as calorific energy, vibratory energy, sound energy -, thus threatening the installation’s integrity. The jet’s motive power, expressed in megawatts, excites the structure, weakening it; cracks may appear.
Should we allow the molecular system to create these dissipative structures which endanger devices by introducing chaos in our major energetic installations?
To regain control of the system, we must apply the Principle of Worst Action.
The Principle of Worst Action
The Second Law of classical thermodynamics states that: Energy degrades.
For our purposes, we reinterpret this law to postulate the Principle of Worst Action, which can be expressed as:
Energy must sometimes be quickly degraded. This is especially the case for valves.
Rather than allowing energy to degrade on its own, and in whatever manner, we apply the Principle of Worst Action to quickly destroy the supersonic jets that cause catastrophic problems in valves.
Order and disorder are present in a dissipative structure, and therefore are also present in a supersonic jet. The Principle of Worst Action states that there should be the greatest possible amount of disorder in a molecular system in order to eliminate the part of order contained within.
But how can this be done?
Nature provides the answer; we just need to observe carefully. Whenever flows are supersonic, it is possible to massively and rapidly degrade energy through a singular use of these flows. The instrument that applies the Principle of Worst Action is called a kinetic energy degrader (KED) or, more simply, a vistemboir.
Using a vistemboir to organize disorder in the microscopic world prevents chaos in our macroscopic world.