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2.2: Basic Definitions

The following basic definitions are common to thermodynamics and will be used in this book.


In mechanics, the work was defined as
    \mathbf{mechanical\, work} = \int \mathbf{F} \bullet \mathbf{dll}   
    = \int P\, dV
    \label{thermo:eq:workM} \tag{1}
This definition can be expanded to include two issues. The first issue that must be addressed is the sign, that is the work done on the surroundings by the system boundaries is considered positive. Two, there is distinction between a transfer of energy so that its effect can cause work and this that is not. For example, the electrical current is a work while pure conductive heat transfer isn't.


This term will be used in this book and it is defined as a continuous (at least partially) fixed quantity of matter. The dimensions of this material can be changed. In this definition, it is assumed that the system speed is significantly lower than that of the speed of light. So, the mass can be assumed constant even though the true conservation law applied to the combination of mass energy (see Einstein's law). In fact for almost all engineering purposes, this law is reduced to two separate laws of mass conservation and energy conservation. The system can receive energy, work, etc as long the mass remain constant the definition is not broken.


  • Dr. Genick Bar-Meir. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or later or Potto license.