Energy: Thermodynamics in Everyday Life

Understand the laws of thermodynamics – and how they govern how we use and lose energy everyday – in this free online course.

Why join the course?

Energy is essential to life at many levels and its transformation from one form to another – whether in the cells of our bodies or the machines that enable modern society – is governed by the laws of thermodynamics.


This free online course provides you with an introduction to these laws, and the application thermodynamics to both everyday examples and issues of global concern.

What topics will you cover?

Zeroth law of thermodynamics: thermal equilibrium; temperature as a measure of thermal equilibrium; temperature scales; introduction to statistical thermodynamics.

Energy conservation: energy as capacity to do work; first law of thermodynamics applied to a system.

Thermodynamic systems: national energy efficiency; systems terminology; enthalpy; specific heat capacity; forms of work; working cycles.

Energy Flows: heat transfer (conduction, convection & radiation); Liedenfrost effect; steady flow energy equation; application in jet engine and hair dryer.

Machines & efficiency: Clausius statement of second law; irreversible processes; power cycles; refrigerators and heat pumps; entropy decay. Available energy: spontaneous change; Gibbs’ Energy; Coupled processes; isentropic functions.

Third law and beyond: superconductivity; approaching absolute zero; beyond absolute zero.mics to both everyday examples and issues of global concern.

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