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Types of Thermodynamic Systems

Systems in thermodynamics are classified as isolated, closed, or open based on the possible transfer of mass and energy across the system boundaries. An isolated system is one that is not influenced in any way by the surroundings. This means that no energy in the form of heat or work may cross the boundary of the system. In addition, no mass may cross the boundary of the system.

A thermodynamic system is defined as a quantity of matter of fixed mass and identity upon which attention is focused for study. A closed system has no transfer of mass with its surroundings, but may have a transfer of energy (either heat or work) with its surroundings.

An open system is one that may have a transfer of both mass and energy with its surroundings.

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