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Spontaneous process

In any system, a spontaneous process is one which occurs on its own without the help of external energy. The natural changes that occur around us result from such processes. For example, flow of heat from a hot body to a cold one, flow of water downhill, and the expansion of a gas from high pressure to low pressure. Besides being spontaneous these processes are also unidirectional, i.e., they occur on their own in one direction only. A spontaneous process cannot be reversed without the aid of external work or energy. The work has to be done to move uphill or to compress a gas.

Statement of second law

The second law of thermodynamics is concerned with the direction and spontaneity of processes. There are many ways of formulating the law based on our experience of the direction or manner in which natural processes occur. The transference of heat from a cold to a hot body cannot be achieved without the performance of work.

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