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Specific Heat Capacity


Some substances heat up more quickly than others. An empty pot, for example, will heat up very quickly. The same pot filled with water will take much longer to heat up. Walking barefoot on the beach at midday is almost impossible because the sand is very hot from the sun. Dipping your feet in the water relieves the burning sensation because the water is cool and not as hot as the sand.

In addition some substances stay hot longer than others. Example when you are in a hurry, you can eat a plate of fried rice much faster than a bowl of noodle soup because the soup remains hot longer.

The ability of a substance to heat up, or 'store heat' varies for different things. It is called heat capacity. The unit of specific heat is calorie per gram per degree Celsius (cal g-1 ºC-1) or kilocalorie per kilogram per degree Celsius (kcal kg-1 ºC-1).

The equation relating heat energy to specific heat capacity, where the unit quantity is in terms of mass is:
Q = m c ΔT

where Q is the heat energy put into or taken out of the substance, m is the mass of the substance, c is the specific heat capacity, and ΔT is the temperature differential.

Where the unit quantity is in terms of moles, the equation relating heat energy to specific heat capacity (also known as molar heat capacity) is
Q = n C ΔT

where Q is the heat energy put into or taken out of the substance, n is the number of moles, C is the specific heat capacity, and ΔT is the temperature differential.
Substance Specific Heat Capacity
(J.kg-1.K-1
water  

ice

ethanol

copper

aluminium

glass

mercury

wood

lead

4200

2100

2400

390

900

840

140

1700

130





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