Under constant pressure (and only PV work), change in enthalpy can be shown to equal change in heat. If enthalpy is not meaningful outside of constant pressure, then why not use heat instead? So I think it must be meaningful outside of constant pressure scenarios, but I couldn't figure it out myself. Can someone help?

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    $\begingroup$ Do you know abt internal energy? $\endgroup$
    – sedflix
    Apr 21, 2015 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


There are many processes that take place at constant pressure, such as the change of phase from a liquid to a vapor for a pure substance at constant temperature. Also, the heats of chemical reactions and heats of formation of compounds are typically cataloged at constant temperature and pressure. So the enthalpy comes into play in both these instances.

The first law of thermodynamics for a closed system is expressed conveniently in terms of the change in internal energy of the system. However, for an open system (in which mass is flowing in and out) operating at steady state, the first law is more conveniently expressed in terms of the enthalpy, not the internal energy. And, of course, all industrial applications of thermodynamics involving continuous processes are operating at steady state.



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