Introduction to Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is a branch of science which deals with the energy changes accompanying physical and chemical transformations. It is not concerned with the total energy of a body, but with energy changes accompanying a given process or transformation. Thermodynamics is concerned in nature.

Natural experiences have led to some fundamental laws known as laws of thermodynamics which are of immense importance in the consideration of problems concerned with equilibrium. These laws enable us to correlate and develop physical theories and make many predictions about the behaviour of matter under various conditions.

The basis of all the thermodynamic reasonings is the result of three fundamental laws known as the:

(i)                  First law of thermodynamics

(ii)                Second law of thermodynamics and

(iii)               Third law of thermodynamics.

The primary application of these laws is to predict the feasibility of a given transformation under a given set of conditions. Thermodynamics can be used to deduce various laws such as distribution law, phase rule, Van’t Hoff’s law of dilute solutions, Raoult’s law of relative lowering of vapour pressure etc. It also systematises the informations obtained from various experiments and allows us to draw certain conclusions.

Thermodynamics has a great practical importance but it has certain limitations, which are discussed below:

(i)      It is concerned with the matter in bulk and not to individual atoms or molecules. Therefore, it does not make any hypothesis regarding structure of atom.

(ii)      It can predict only the feasibility of a process under a given set of conditions but fails to tell about the rate at which the changes take place.

(iii)     It does not explain completely the behaviour of a system away from equilibrium.

(iv)      It does not predict the way the system undergoes change.

(v)        Thermodynamics gives the relationship between various properties experimentally observed, but does not offer any explanation, why these properties arise from the systems.

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