The First Law in Detail
The three terms of the First Law of Thermodynamics, (3.50), relate a system’s internal energy increase to its thermal, mechanical, and diffusive changes. Historically, the study of thermal and mechanical changes enabled heat processes to be harnessed into engines, from the age of steam through to modern automobiles and jet propulsion. Studies of the law’s third term, diffusion, brought chemists an understanding of how to quantify the rates and directions of chemical reactions. In this chapter, we’ll study some important aspects of each of these terms that comprise the First Law.
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