Enthalpy - Enthalpy Versus Internal Energy

Enthalpy Versus Internal Energy

The U term can be interpreted as the energy required to create the system, and the pV term as the energy that would be required to "make room" for the system if the pressure of the environment remained constant. When a system, for example, n moles of a gas of volume V at pressure p and temperature T, is created or brought to its present state from absolute zero, energy must be supplied equal to its internal energy U plus pV, where pV is the work done in pushing against the ambient (atmospheric) pressure.

In basic physics and statistical mechanics it may be more interesting to study the internal properties of the system and therefore the internal energy is used. In basic chemistry scientists are typically interested in experiments conducted at atmospheric pressure, and for reaction energy calculations they care about the total energy in such conditions, and therefore typically need to use H. Furthermore the enthalpy is the workhorse of engineering thermodynamics as we will see later.

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