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Properties of a System

Any characteristic of a system is called a property. Some familiar properties are pressure P, temperature T, volume V, and mass m. The list can be extended to include less familiar ones such as viscosity, thermal conductivity, modulus of elasticity, thermal expansion coefficient, electric resistivity, and even velocity and elevation.

thermodynamics_engrzProperties are considered to be either intensive or extensive. Intensive properties are those that are independent of the mass of a system, such as temperature, pressure, and density. Extensive properties are those whose values depend on the size—or extent—of the system. Total mass, total volume, and total momentum are some examples of extensive properties. An easy way to determine whether a property is intensive or extensive is to divide the system into two equal parts with an imaginary partition, as shown in Fig. 1–20. Each part will have the same value of intensive properties as the original system, but half the value of the extensive properties.
Generally, uppercase letters are used to denote extensive properties (with mass m being a major exception), and lowercase letters are used for intensive properties (with pressure P and temperature T being the obvious exceptions).
Extensive properties per unit mass are called specific properties. Some examples of specific properties are specific volume (v=V/m) and specific total energy (e=E/m).

Reference: Thermodynamics – An Engineering Approach
5th Edition
by: Yunus A. Cengel and Michale A. Boles

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