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Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Define the first law of thermodynamics.
  • Describe how conservation of energy relates to the first law of thermodynamics.
  • Identify instances of the first law of thermodynamics working in everyday situations, including biological metabolism.
  • Calculate changes in the internal energy of a system, after accounting for heat transfer and work done.

The information presented in this section supports the following AP® learning objectives and science practices:

  • 4.C.3.1 The student is able to make predictions about the direction of energy transfer due to temperature differences based on interactions at the microscopic level. (S.P. 6.1)
  • 5.B.4.1 The student is able to describe and make predictions about the internal energy of systems. (S.P. 6.4, 7.2)
  • 5.B.7.1 The student is able to predict qualitative changes in the internal energy of a thermodynamic system involving transfer of energy due to heat or work done and justify those predictions in terms of conservation of energy principles. (S.P. 6.4, 7.2)
The photograph shows water boiling in a tea kettle kept on a stove. The water vapor is shown to emerge out of the nozzle of the kettle.
This boiling tea kettle represents energy in motion. The water in the kettle is turning to water vapor because heat is being transferred from the stove to the kettle. As the entire system gets hotter, work is done—from the evaporation of the water to the whistling of the kettle. (credit: Gina Hamilton)

If we are interested in how heat transfer is converted into doing work, then the conservation of energy principle is important. The first law of thermodynamics applies the conservation of energy principle to systems where heat transfer and doing work are the methods of transferring energy into and out of the system. The first law of thermodynamics    states that the change in internal energy of a system equals the net heat transfer into the system minus the net work done by the system. In equation form, the first law of thermodynamics is

Δ U = Q W . size 12{ΔU=Q - W} {}

Here Δ U size 12{ΔU} {} is the change in internal energy U size 12{U} {} of the system. Q size 12{Q} {} is the net heat transferred into the system —that is, Q size 12{Q} {} is the sum of all heat transfer into and out of the system. W size 12{W} {} is the net work done by the system —that is, W size 12{W} {} is the sum of all work done on or by the system. We use the following sign conventions: if Q size 12{Q} {} is positive, then there is a net heat transfer into the system; if W size 12{W} {} is positive, then there is net work done by the system. So positive Q size 12{Q} {} adds energy to the system and positive W size 12{W} {} takes energy from the system. Thus Δ U = Q W size 12{ΔU=Q - W} {} . Note also that if more heat transfer into the system occurs than work done, the difference is stored as internal energy. Heat engines are a good example of this—heat transfer into them takes place so that they can do work. (See [link] .) We will now examine Q size 12{Q} {} , W size 12{W} {} , and Δ U size 12{ΔU} {} further.

The figure shows a schematic diagram of a system shown by an ellipse. Heat Q is shown to enter the system as shown by a bold arrow toward the ellipse. The work done is shown pointing away from the system. The internal energy of the system is marked as delta U equals Q minus W. The second part of the figure shows two arrow diagrams for the heat change Q and work W. Q is shown as Q in minus Q out. W is shown as W out minus W in.
The first law of thermodynamics is the conservation-of-energy principle stated for a system where heat and work are the methods of transferring energy for a system in thermal equilibrium. Q size 12{Q} {} represents the net heat transfer—it is the sum of all heat transfers into and out of the system. Q size 12{Q} {} is positive for net heat transfer into the system. W size 12{W} {} is the total work done on and by the system. W size 12{W} {} is positive when more work is done by the system than on it. The change in the internal energy of the system, Δ U size 12{ΔU} {} , is related to heat and work by the first law of thermodynamics, Δ U = Q W size 12{ΔU=Q - W} {} .

Questions & Answers

If a prism is fully imersed in water then the ray of light will normally dispersed or their is any difference?
Anurag Reply
the same behavior thru the prism out or in water bud abbot
Ju
If this will experimented with a hollow(vaccum) prism in water then what will be result ?
Anurag
What was the previous far point of a patient who had laser correction that reduced the power of her eye by 7.00 D, producing a normal distant vision power of 50.0 D for her?
Jaydie Reply
What is the far point of a person whose eyes have a relaxed power of 50.5 D?
Jaydie
What is the far point of a person whose eyes have a relaxed power of 50.5 D?
Jaydie
A young woman with normal distant vision has a 10.0% ability to accommodate (that is, increase) the power of her eyes. What is the closest object she can see clearly?
Jaydie
29/20 ? maybes
Ju
In what ways does physics affect the society both positively or negatively
Princewill Reply
how can I read physics...am finding it difficult to understand...pls help
rerry Reply
try to read several books on phy don't just rely one. some authors explain better than other.
Ju
And don't forget to check out YouTube videos on the subject. Videos offer a different visual way to learn easier.
Ju
hope that helps
Ju
I have a exam on 12 february
David Reply
what is velocity
Jiti
the speed of something in a given direction.
Ju
what is a magnitude in physics
Jiti Reply
Propose a force standard different from the example of a stretched spring discussed in the text. Your standard must be capable of producing the same force repeatedly.
Giovani Reply
What is meant by dielectric charge?
It's Reply
what happens to the size of charge if the dielectric is changed?
Brhanu Reply
omega= omega not +alpha t derivation
Provakar Reply
u have to derivate it respected to time ...and as w is the angular velocity uu will relace it with "thita × time""
Abrar
do to be peaceful with any body
Brhanu Reply
the angle subtended at the center of sphere of radius r in steradian is equal to 4 pi how?
Saeed Reply
if for diatonic gas Cv =5R/2 then gamma is equal to 7/5 how?
Saeed
define variable velocity
Ali Reply
displacement in easy way.
Mubashir Reply
binding energy per nucleon
Poonam Reply
Practice Key Terms 3

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics for ap® courses. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11844/1.14
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