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Thermoeconomics, also referred to as biophysical economics, is a school of heterodox economics that applies the laws of statistical mechanics to economic theory. Thermoeconomics can be thought of as the statistical physics of economic value and is a subfield of econophysics.
Thermoeconomists maintain that human economic systems can be modeled as thermodynamic systems. Thermoeconomists argue that economic systems always involve matter, energy, entropy, and information. Then, based on this premise, theoretical economic analogs of the first and second laws of thermodynamics are developed.
Moreover, many economic activities result in the formation of structures. Thermoeconomics applies the statistical mechanics of non-equilibrium thermodynamics to model these activities. In thermodynamic terminology, human economic activity may be described as a dissipative system, which flourishes by consuming free energy in transformations and exchange of resources, goods, and services.
Application to biology
Thermoeconomics is based on the proposition that the role of energy in biological evolution should be defined and understood not through the second law of thermodynamics but in terms of such economic criteria as productivity, efficiency, and especially the costs and benefits (or profitability) of the various mechanisms for capturing and utilizing available energy to build biomass and do work.[dubious ]
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