Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 1st Law of Thermodynamics

The 1st Law of thermodynamics can be stated as follows
  1. The Law of Conservation of Energy.
  2. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it can change forms..
  3. Total amount of energy in a closed system remains constant.

The significance of this is that the total amount of energy in the Universe is constant. It is also impossible to get more energy out of a system than is put into it. You can’t get just energy from nothing it has to come from some place. Most often it is stored in the form of some type of fuel but regardless energy has to come from some source. 

The 1st Law of Thermodynamics tells us a lot about what systems are possible and what systems are impossible. Any system that puts out more energy than is put into it from any source is impossible. To be possible a system must it needs to get energy from some place, even if it is not obvious. This does not mean that you can’t get more energy out of a system tan you put into it but it has to come from someplace..

Free Energy is often associated with pseudo-science and conspiracy theories but it is a legitimate scientific term. In classical thermodynamics free energy is the energy in a system available to do work. However “free energy” refers to a group of devices alleged to put out more energy than the user supplies to them. Though I have never seen a convincing demonstration of a free energy device the question here is does free energy violate the 1st Law of thermodynamics? 

The answerer is no as long as the free energy device gets energy from some place. Now there are recognized devices that technically qualify as free energy they include solar cells which get their energy from sun light and wind mills that get their energy from wind. However most alleged free energy devices seek to tape the Universe’s zero point energy. Now it is highly debatable as to whether or not this zero point energy can be taped but in principle it does not violate the 1st law thermodynamics.   

In conclusion the 1st Law of thermodynamics simply says that the amount energy in a closed system remains constant.  This is regardless of how it is changed or is moved around. To add energy to a system it needs to come from some place else.

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