The entropy production of a metal bar heated on each side by a different heat source is computed for a family of temperature profiles. Except for the linear profile which corresponds to the steady state solution, all the other profiles do not correspond to a steady state. The calculation was performed to see if the steadystate profile corresponds or not to
the maximum entropy production among all possible (steady and nonsteady) states.
The result is that the steadystate profile does not correspond to such state. It is rather close, but not exactly, to a state where
entropy production is the minimum among all possible states. This result is discussed in contrast to Prigogine's "minimum entropy production principle".
The family of profiles consists of a linear profile between x=0 and x=a and another one with a different slope between x=a and x=L, where L is the length of the metal bar (Figure 1). The bar is heated with temperature T
_{1} on one end and T
_{2} on the other. Among all these profiles, the one corresponding to a steady state is linear throughout the bar length.
Figure 1 

The temperature profile T(x) for this family is thus:
The time rate of change of T(x) is governed by the following equation:
where K is the heat diffusion coefficient and is considered constant here. The equation governing the production of entropy is:
where the last expression is positive in accord with the second law of thermodynamics. The entropy production is plotted in Fig. 2 for different values of a and T
_{a}.
Figure 2 

The entropy production can be as large as you want. For instance, the entropy production goes to infinity for a going to x=0 or L with a fixed T
_{a}. On the other hand, there is a band of minimum entropy production. Derivating Eq. (8) with respect to T
_{a} with fixed a, and equating it with zero gives the value of T
_{a} for which the entropy production is minimum for a given a:
Such profile is plotted in red in Fig. 2 and it has to be compared with the linear profile plotted in dash black corresponding to the steady state solution.
Thus, in this simple example, the steady solution does not correspond to a state of maximum entropy production and is rather closer to a state of minimum entropy production. Ozawa
et al (2003) states that linear systems, such as the present one, should be governed by the principle of minimum entropy production suggested by Prigogine (1947). Why we did not find exactly that? Well, there are different definitions of "minimum": the one we computed is the minimum
among a family of possible states, while Prigogine's one is the minimum over the evolution of the system. Basically, Prigogine's principle simply states that the time evolution of the entropy for the forceddissipative system we study is:
Figure 3 

Because the system is constantly forced and dissipative, entropy is produced all the time even at steady state (defined here as d²S/dt²=0). At steady state the rate of production is constant. Prigogine's principle says that dS/dt is always decreasing and at steady state, it has reached a minimum.
Ozawa
et al. (2003) argue that for a
nonlinear system however, dS/dt reaches a maximum at steady state.