# Specific Heat Capacity: Formula, Definition and Example of Water

Specific heat capacity is a fundamental thermodynamic property of matter that plays a crucial role in the transfer of thermal energy and in numerous physical and chemical processes.

This property determines how easily a material can be heated or cooled.

## What Is Specific Heat Capacity?

In the context of thermodynamics, specific heat capacity is defined as the amount of thermal energy required to raise the temperature of a unit mass of a substance by one unit of temperature. This property is related to the heat capacity, which is the total amount of thermal energy that a substance can store based on its mass.

In other words, specific heat indicates how much energy needs to be added to or removed from a substance to change its temperature.

Substances with a high specific heat capacity require a lot of energy to raise their temperature, while those with a low specific heat heat up faster.

Specific heat capacity can vary with temperature. In some cases, such as ideal gases, the specific heat is constant at constant pressure, but in most substances, especially liquids and solids, the specific heat can change with temperature.

## Specific Heat Capacity Formula

The general formula for calculating specific heat capacity (C) is:

C = Q / (m * ΔT)

Where:

• C is the specific heat capacity.

• Q is the amount of heat transferred m is the mass of the substance

• ΔT is the temperature change experienced by the substance

This formula applies when you want to determine the specific heat capacity of a substance as a function of the amount of heat transferred, the mass, and the change in temperature. In the International System of Units (SI), specific heat is measured in joules per gram per degree Celsius (J/g°C).

## Because It Is Important?

The importance of specific heat lies in its ability to influence the way in which substances store and release heat. This thermodynamic property varies from one substance to another and depends on the chemical composition and molecular structure of the material in question.

Specific heat capacity also plays a crucial role in everyday life. For example, when we cook food, the specific heat of the cookware determines how long it takes to heat or cool the food.

Furthermore, the specific heat of substances is used in industry to design efficient heating and cooling systems, as well as in scientific research to understand and control heat transfer processes.

## Specific Heat Capacity of Water

The specific heat of water is approximately 4.18 J/g°C (joules per gram per degree Celsius). This means that 4.18 joules of heat energy are required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.

The specific heat capacity of water is remarkably high compared to many other substances, which has important implications for everyday life and natural systems.

Thanks to its high specific heat, water can store large amounts of heat without experiencing significant changes in temperature. This allows the water to act as a thermal regulator in the environment, which has an impact on the global climate, aquatic ecosystems and life on Earth in general.

In addition, the high specific heat of water is also used in the cooling and heating of buildings, as well as in industry, since water can absorb and release large amounts of heat efficiently. This makes water an effective medium for heat transfer in heating and cooling systems, as well as in industrial processes that require temperature control.

## Difference Between Heat Capacity and Specific Heat

Heat capacity, related to specific heat, is used to describe the total amount of thermal energy that an object or substance can store based on its mass.

This value is calculated by multiplying the specific heat by the mass and is expressed in units of energy, such as joules or calories.

## Specific Heat Capacity Table

Next, I present a table with some approximate values ​​of specific heat capacity of different substances at room temperature. Please note that these values ​​are only approximate and may vary slightly depending on specific conditions.

Substance

Specific heat capacity (J/g°C)

Liquid water)

4.18

Water (steam)

2.02

Ice

2.09

Aluminum

0.897

Iron

0.449

Copper

0.385

0.128

Mercury

0.14

Air

1.01

Gold

0.129

Silver

0.235

Cement

0.84

Stainless steel

0.5-0.6

Glass

0.84

Wood (average)

2.5-2.8

Polystyrene (styrofoam)

1.3

Polypropylene

2.1

teflon

0.25

Sugar

1.6

Common salt (sodium chloride)

0.86

Olive oil

1.92

Ethanol

2.44

Gasoline

2.22

Benzene

1.85

methanol

2.51

Methane

2.20

Nitrogen

1.04

Oxygen

0.92

Helium

5.19

Ammonia

4.70

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

0.82

## Summary

In short, specific heat capacity is a key property of matter that determines how substances absorb, store, and release heat. This property has a wide range of applications in various areas, from climatology and engineering to cooking and scientific research.

Understanding specific heat helps us better understand heat transfer processes and develop more efficient and sustainable technologies in our ever-evolving world.

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Published: June 16, 2023
Last review: June 16, 2023