Chapter 27 : Concept of Heat & Temperature - Diploma In Engineering - Student's Corner


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Saturday, January 27, 2024

Chapter 27 : Concept of Heat & Temperature - Diploma In Engineering

Chapter 27 : Concept of Heat & Temperature

The concepts of heat and temperature are fundamental to our understanding of the physical world. These concepts are deeply rooted in the behavior of molecules and their kinetic energy. In this exploration, we will delve into the molecular perspective of heat and temperature, emphasizing the kinetic energy (K.E.) of molecules and discussing the units used to quantify heat.


1.    Molecular Kinetic Energy and Temperature:

At the molecular level, temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles in a substance. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion, and in the context of molecules, it represents the translational, rotational, and vibrational motion of particles.

ü  Translational Motion: Molecules move through space in straight lines. The faster they move, the higher their translational kinetic energy, contributing to an increase in temperature.

ü  Rotational Motion: Molecules can rotate around their own axes. Rotational kinetic energy adds to the overall energy content of the substance.

ü  Vibrational Motion: Atoms within molecules vibrate about their equilibrium positions. Vibrational kinetic energy is significant in solids and contributes to the overall internal energy.


The kinetic theory of gases connects temperature to the average kinetic energy of gas molecules. According to this theory, the average kinetic energy is directly proportional to the temperature in Kelvin (K).


2.    Temperature Scales:

To quantify temperature, we use different temperature scales. The most commonly used scales are Celsius (°C), Fahrenheit (°F), and Kelvin (K).

ü  Celsius (°C): The Celsius scale is based on the properties of water. Zero degrees Celsius is defined as the freezing point of water, and 100 degrees Celsius is defined as the boiling point of water at standard atmospheric pressure.

ü  Fahrenheit (°F): The Fahrenheit scale, widely used in the United States, also uses the freezing and boiling points of water. These are set at 32°F and 212°F, respectively.

ü  Kelvin (K): The Kelvin scale is an absolute temperature scale used in scientific applications. It starts from absolute zero, the point at which particles have minimal motion. The Kelvin scale is widely used in physics and chemistry.


3.    Heat as Energy Transfer:

Heat is a form of energy, and its understanding is closely linked to the concept of energy transfer. Heat flows from regions of higher temperature to regions of lower temperature until thermal equilibrium is reached. The primary modes of heat transfer are conduction, convection, and radiation.

ü  Conduction: In solids, heat is transferred through direct collisions between particles. Higher kinetic energy particles transfer some of their energy to lower kinetic energy particles, causing a flow of heat.

ü  Convection: In fluids (liquids and gases), heat is transferred through the bulk movement of the substance. Warmer regions become less dense, rise, and are replaced by cooler, denser regions in a continuous cycle.

ü  Radiation: Heat can be transferred through electromagnetic waves. Unlike conduction and convection, radiation does not require a material medium and can occur in a vacuum.


4.    Unit of Heat:

The unit of heat is the calorie. One calorie is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. The calorie is a relatively small unit, and for larger-scale applications, the kilocalorie (kcal) is commonly used. One kilocalorie is equivalent to 1000 calories.

In the International System of Units (SI), the standard unit for heat is the joule (J). One joule is equal to the amount of energy transferred when one Newton of force moves an object one meter against the force. The relationship between calories and joules is approximately 1 cal = 4.184 J.

The concept of specific heat capacity is crucial when considering the amount of heat required to change the temperature of a substance. Specific heat capacity (C) is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one unit mass of a substance by one degree Celsius. Mathematically, it is expressed as Q = m * C * ΔT, where Q is the heat transferred, m is the mass, C is the specific heat, and ΔT is the change in temperature.

5.    Latent Heat:

In addition to the heat required to change the temperature of a substance, there is another aspect known as latent heat. Latent heat is the heat absorbed or released during a phase change (solid to liquid, liquid to gas, etc.) without a change in temperature. The amount of latent heat is given by the equation Q = m * L, where Q is the heat transferred, m is the mass, and L is the latent heat.


For example, the latent heat of fusion is the heat required to change a substance from a solid to a liquid, and the latent heat of vaporization is the heat required to change a substance from a liquid to a gas.

In synopsis, the concepts of heat and temperature are intricately connected to the kinetic energy of molecules. Temperature reflects the average molecular kinetic energy, and heat is the energy transferred due to temperature differences. Understanding these concepts provides a foundation for comprehending the behavior of matter and the principles underlying energy transfer. The units of heat, such as calories and joules, allow us to quantify and measure these essential aspects of thermodynamics, contributing to advancements in fields ranging from physics to engineering.