First law of thermodynamics ~ MECHTECH GURU

First law of thermodynamics

First law of thermodynamics

The first law of thermodynamics is the thermodynamic expression of the conservation of energy.

This law most simply stated by saying that “energy can not be created or destroyed” or that  “the energy of the universe is constant”.

This law can be stated for a system (control mass) undergoing a cycle or for a change of state  of a system.

Stated for a system undergoing a cycle, the cyclic integral of the work is proportional to the cyclic integral of the heat.

Mathematically stated, for a control mass undergoing a cyclic process such as in Joule’s experiment and for consistent set of units

∫dQfrom system= ∫dWon system


or   ∫dQfrom system- ∫dWon system  = 0

The important thing to remember is that the first law states that the energy  is  conserved always.

 Sign convention 

The work done by a system on the surroundings is treated as a positive quantity.


Similarly, energy transfer as heat to the system from the surroundings is assigned a positive sign. With the sign convention one can write,



∫dQ = ∫dW

Consequences of the first law

Suppose a system is taken from state 1 to state 2 by the path 1-a-2 and  is  restored to  the  initial state by the path 2-b-1, then the system has undergone a cyclic process 1-a-2-b-1. If the system is restored to the initial state by path 2-c-1, then the system has undergone the cyclic change 1-a-2-c-1. Let us apply the first law of thermodynamics to the cyclic processes 1-a-2- b-1 and 1-a-2-c-1 to obtain


1-a-2dQ+ ∫2-b-1dQ - ∫1-a-2dW - ∫2-b-1dW =0


Subtracting, we get

                                           ∫1-a-2dQ+ ∫2-c-1dQ - ∫1-a-2dW - ∫2-c-1dW=0


2b1dQ- ∫2c1dQ –( ∫2b1dW - ∫2c1dW) =0

We know that the work is a path function and hence the term in the  bracket  is non-zero.  Hence we find





2b1dQ =  2c1dQ



That is heat is also a path function.


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May 25, 2021 at 3:17 PM ×

this law of thermodynamics changed the worlds machine history. The lawyer world

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