Specific Heat Capacity

It is important to know what internal energy is when looking at specific heat capacity. Internal energy is the total energy stored by the particles of a substance.

Internal energy consists of two main components:

  • Kinetic energy
  • Potential energy

Kinetic energy is the energy an object possesses due to its motion, and the kinetic energy store is related to temperature.

When you heat a substance, the kinetic energy of its particles increases, causing them to move faster. This raises the substance’s internal energy, which we measure as temperature.

So, the more internal energy a substance has, the higher its temperature will be. Heating a substance transfers energy to its particles, increasing their kinetic energy and thereby the internal energy. This results in a temperature rise.

  • Keep in mind, that different materials require different amounts of energy to change their temperature.

Calculating Specific Heat Capacity

Specific heat capacity is the energy required to raiseone kilogram (kg) of a substance by one degree Celsius (°C). The equation for this is:

  • ΔEt is thermal energy in joules (J)
  • m is mass in kilograms (kg)
  • c is specific heat capacity in joules per kilogram per degrees Celsius (J/kg°C)
  • ∆θ is temperature change in degrees Celsius (°C)

The specific heat capacity of water is 4,200 J/kg°C. This indicates that 4,200 joules of energy are needed to increase the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1°C.