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Thermodynamics

Introduction

OpenStaxCollege

Learning Objectives

  • Spontaneity
  • Entropy
  • The Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics
  • Free Energy
Geysers are a dramatic display of thermodynamic principles in nature. As water inside the earth heats up, it rises to the surface through small channels. Pressure builds up until the water turns to steam, and steam is expelled forcefully through a hole at the surface. (credit: modification of work by Yellowstone National Park)


A photograph shows an aerial view of buildings, trees and a large area clear of vegetation, above which rises a plume of steam.

Among the many capabilities of chemistry is its ability to predict if a process will occur under specified conditions. Thermodynamics, the study of relationships between the energy and work associated with chemical and physical processes, provides this predictive ability. Previous chapters in this text have described various applications of thermochemistry, an important aspect of thermodynamics concerned with the heat flow accompanying chemical reactions and phase transitions. This chapter will introduce additional thermodynamic concepts, including those that enable the prediction of any chemical or physical changes under a given set of conditions.

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