4. The First Law of Thermodynamics for Closed Systems

4.2 Heat transfer across a boundary

The total energy stored in a system may change when energy is transferred into or out of the system. For a closed system, the energy transfer is achieved via two mechanisms: heat and work, as illustrated in Figure 1.2.3.


Heat transfer takes place when a temperature difference exists between a system and its surroundings. As heat transfer must cross the system boundary, it is a boundary phenomenon. The heat transfer between two states during a process can be written as

[latex]{}_{1}Q_{2}=\displaystyle\int_{1}^{2}{\delta Q}[/latex]


Different from internal energy, heat transfer is NOT a state function. It is a path function because the amount of heat that is absorbed or rejected by a substance in a process depends not only on the initial and final states, but also on the process path. Although heat transfer is NOT a property of a system, it has a significant effect on the changes of properties of the system in a process.


Specific heat transfer refers to the amount of heat transfer per unit mass of a substance. It is defined as



[latex]m[/latex]: mass of a system, in kg

[latex]Q[/latex]: amount of heat transfer in a process, in kJ

[latex]q[/latex]: amount of specific heat transfer in a process, in kJ/kg


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