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The body provides us with an excellent indication that many thermodynamic processes are irreversible . An irreversible process can go in one direction but not the reverse, under a given set of conditions. For example, although body fat can be converted to do work and produce heat transfer, work done on the body and heat transfer into it cannot be converted to body fat. Otherwise, we could skip lunch by sunning ourselves or by walking down stairs. Another example of an irreversible thermodynamic process is photosynthesis. This process is the intake of one form of energy—light—by plants and its conversion to chemical potential energy. Both applications of the first law of thermodynamics are illustrated in [link] . One great advantage of conservation laws such as the first law of thermodynamics is that they accurately describe the beginning and ending points of complex processes, such as metabolism and photosynthesis, without regard to the complications in between. [link] presents a summary of terms relevant to the first law of thermodynamics.

Part a of the figure is a pictorial representation of metabolism in a human body. The food is shown to enter the body as shown by a bold arrow toward the body. Work W and heat Q leave the body as shown by bold arrows pointing outward from the body. Delta U is shown as the stored food energy. Part b of the figure shows the metabolism in plants .The heat from the sunlight is shown to fall on a plant represented as Q in. The heat given out by the plant is shown as Q out by an arrow pointing away from the plant.
(a) The first law of thermodynamics applied to metabolism. Heat transferred out of the body ( Q size 12{Q} {} ) and work done by the body ( W size 12{W} {} ) remove internal energy, while food intake replaces it. (Food intake may be considered as work done on the body.) (b) Plants convert part of the radiant heat transfer in sunlight to stored chemical energy, a process called photosynthesis.
Summary of terms for the first law of thermodynamics, ΔU=Q−W
Term Definition
U size 12{U} {} Internal energy—the sum of the kinetic and potential energies of a system’s atoms and molecules. Can be divided into many subcategories, such as thermal and chemical energy. Depends only on the state of a system (such as its P size 12{P} {} , V size 12{V} {} , and T size 12{T} {} ), not on how the energy entered the system. Change in internal energy is path independent.
Q size 12{Q} {} Heat—energy transferred because of a temperature difference. Characterized by random molecular motion. Highly dependent on path. Q size 12{Q} {} entering a system is positive.
W size 12{W} {} Work—energy transferred by a force moving through a distance. An organized, orderly process. Path dependent. W size 12{W} {} done by a system (either against an external force or to increase the volume of the system) is positive.

Section summary

  • The first law of thermodynamics is given as Δ U = Q W size 12{ΔU=Q - W} {} , where Δ U size 12{ΔU} {} is the change in internal energy of a system, Q size 12{Q} {} is the net heat transfer (the sum of all heat transfer into and out of the system), and W size 12{W} {} is the net work done (the sum of all work done on or by the system).
  • Both Q size 12{Q} {} and W size 12{W} {} are energy in transit; only Δ U size 12{ΔU} {} represents an independent quantity capable of being stored.
  • The internal energy U size 12{U} {} of a system depends only on the state of the system and not how it reached that state.
  • Metabolism of living organisms, and photosynthesis of plants, are specialized types of heat transfer, doing work, and internal energy of systems.

Conceptual questions

Describe the photo of the tea kettle at the beginning of this section in terms of heat transfer, work done, and internal energy. How is heat being transferred? What is the work done and what is doing it? How does the kettle maintain its internal energy?

Questions & Answers

what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Practice Key Terms 3

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics: physics of california. OpenStax CNX. Sep 30, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11577/1.1
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