You already know that heat absorbed or released by a body is related to its internal energy. The heat absorbed is equal to the change in the internal energy. This is given by ∆U = q_{V}. But this equation holds good only at a constant volume. However, when heat is absorbed or released by a body, there is a change in its volume. The alternate solution is to carry out the reaction at a constant pressure – in flasks and test tubes. Hence, there is a need for another state function which defines the change in internal energy at a constant pressure. The concept of enthalpy comes into picture here.

**Enthalpy**

At a constant pressure, the equation for change in internal energy, ∆U = q + w can be written as

∆U = q_{P} – p∆V

Where q_{P} represents the heat absorbed by the system at a constant pressure and – p∆V is the expansion work done due to the heat absorbed by the system.

We can write the above equation in terms of initial and final states of the system as:

U_{F} – U_{I} = q_{P} –p(V_{F} – V_{I})

Or q_{P }= (U_{F }+ pV_{F}) – (U_{I }+ pV_{I})

Enthalpy H can be given by H = U + PV. Substituting it in the above equation, we get:

q_{P} = H_{F} – H_{I} = ∆H

Hence, change in enthalpy ∆H = q_{P}, which is the heat absorbed by the system at a constant pressure.

At constant pressure, we can also write,

∆H = ∆U + p∆V

Some pointers to be kept in mind:

- In exothermic reactions, heat from the system is lost to the surrounding. For such reactions, ∆H is negative.
- In endothermic reactions, heat is absorbed by the system from the surroundings. For such reactions, ∆H is positive.

To learn more about enthalpy, the differences between enthalpy and energy, and to watch video lectures on these topics, download Byju’s The Learning App.