Chemistry: Specific Heat Capacity

Water has many unique characteristics. One of these properties is water’s unusual ability to absorb large quantities of heat without much change in temperature. This characteristic is the specific heat capacity, Cp.

When water absorbs 4.184 Joules of heat, the temperature of one gram of water will increase by 1 C°. Relatively speaking, this is an enormous amount of heat energy. Coastal states like Florida, which are surrounded by water, maintain relatively stable climates with moderate temperatures. This is because water can absorb or release a great deal of heat without experiencing huge fluctuations in temperature.

By comparison, look at the heat capacity of copper. 1 gram of copper will rise in temperature by 1 C° when just 0.385 Joules of heat is absorbed. This low specific heat capacity indicates that copper is a good conductor of heat. You might predict that applying a small amount of heat will make the temperature of a gram of copper skyrocket while the same amount of heat hardly makes the temperature of one gram of water rise at all.

q = (mass) (specific heat capacity) (ΔT)

q: quantity of heat    (in Joules)
m: mass of object      (in grams)
Cp: specific heat capacity   (in Joules/gram °C)
ΔT: change in temperature of the object (Tf-Ti)   (in C°)

General Questions
 How much heat is absorbed when 500. g of water , Cp = 4.184 J/goC, goes from 25.0 oC to 35.0 oC?
 1

 How much heat is absorbed when 500. g of copper, Cp = 0.385 J/goC ,  goes from 25.0 oC to 35.0 oC?
 2

 How much heat is released when 150. g of iron cools from 525oC to 100oC?  (Cp = 0.44 J/goC)
 3

 A 50.0 g block of glass (Cp = 0.50 J/goC) absorbs 333 joules of heat energy.  How much does the temperature of the glass rise?
 4

 The temperature of a silver coin (Cp = 0.24 J/goC)  falls by 353 oC as it releases 5,550 Joules of heat.  What is the mass of the coin?
 5

 An aluminum can with a mass of 12.5 grams (Cp = .90 J/goC) absorbs 245 Joules of heat.  How much does the temperature rise?
 6

 Is mercury (Cp = 0.14 J/goC) or silver (Cp = 0.24 J/goC) a better conductor of heat? Explain.
 7

 The specific heat capacity of water is a whopping 4.184 J/goC. What does this really mean? Why did I place the term “whopping” into this statement?
 8

E Saylor

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