Concept

# First law of thermodynamics

Summary
The first law of thermodynamics is a formulation of the law of conservation of energy, adapted for thermodynamic processes. A simple formulation is: "The total energy in a system remains constant, although it may be converted from one form to another." Another common phrasing is that "energy can neither be created nor destroyed". While there are many subtleties and implications that may be more precisely captured in more complex formulations, this is the essential principle of the First Law. It distinguishes in principle two forms of energy transfer: heat, and thermodynamic work, for a system of a constant amount of matter. The law also defines the internal energy of a system, an extensive property for taking account of the balance of energies in the system. The law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of any isolated system, which cannot exchange energy or matter, is constant. Energy can be transformed from one form to another, but can be neither created nor destroyed. The first law for a thermodynamic process is often formulated as where denotes the change in the internal energy of a closed system (for which heat or work through the system boundary are possible, but matter transfer is not possible), denotes the energy supplied to the system as heat, and is the thermodynamic work done by the system on its surroundings. An equivalent statement is that perpetual motion machines of the first kind are impossible; work done by a system on its surroundings requires that the system's internal energy decrease or be consumed, so that the amount of internal energy lost by that work must be resupplied as heat by an external energy source or as work by an external machine acting on the system (so that is recovered) to make the system work continuously. The ideal isolated system, of which the entire universe is an example, is often only used as a model. Many systems in practical applications require the consideration of internal chemical or nuclear reactions, as well as transfers of matter into or out of the system.