First Law of Thermodynamics

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The first law of thermodynamics states that 'the amount of work needed to change the state of a system from an intial to a final state depends solely on the change accomplished, and not on the means by which the work is performed, nor on the intermediate states by which the system may pass. Conservation of energy is a consequence of the first law of thermodynamics: energy can be neither created nor destroyed.'

The symbol equation generally used for the first law of thermodynamics is:

ΔU = Q + W

Where ΔU = the change in the internal energy of a system, W = the amount of any work (other than in the form of heat) that is done on the system and Q = the heat given to the system.[1][2]


  1. Serdyuk, I. N., Zaccai, N. R., Zaccai, J., (2007) Methods in Molecular Biophysics, New York: Cambridge University Press (pp 177, 178)
  2. Hyper Physics (29/11/2013)
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