What is heat?. Heat is a form of energy that flows from one body to another due to temperature differences between them.

Heat capacity

Heat capacity is defined as the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of a given mass of a substance by one degree Celsius or one Kelvin. It is denoted by ‘C’.

Heat capacity, C = heat absorbed, Q / temperature change θ.

The units of heat capacity are J / 0C or J / K.


Specific heat capacity.

S.H.C of a substance is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kg of a substance by 1 0C or 1 K. It is denoted by ‘c’, hence,

c = Q / m θ where Q – quantity of heat, m – mass andθ – change in temperature.

The units for ‘c’ are J kg-1 K-1. Also Q = m c θ.


  1. A block of metal of mass 1.5 kg which is suitably insulated is heated from 30 0C to 50 0C in 8 minutes and 20 seconds by an electric heater coil rated 54 watts.


  1. a) The quantity of heat supplied by the heater
  2. b) The heat capacity of the block
  3. c) Its specific heat capacity


  1. a) Quantity of heat= power × time = P t

= 54 × 500 = 27,000 J

  1. b) Heat capacity, C= Q / θ = 27,000 / (50 – 30) = 1,350 J Kg-1 K-1
  2. c) Specific heat capacity, c = C / m = 1,350 / 1.5 = 900 J Kg-1
  3. If 300 g of paraffin is heated with an immersion heater rated 40 W, what is the temperature after 3 minutes if the initial temperature was 20 0C? (S.H.C for paraffin = 2,200 JK -1K-1). Solution

Energy = P t = m c θ = Q = quantity of heat.

P t = 40 × 180 = 7,200 J

m = 0.30 kg c = 2,200, θ = ..?

Q = m c θ, θ = Q / m c = 7,200 / (0.3 × 2,200) = 10.9 0C

  1. A piece of copper of mass 60 g and specific heat capacity 390 J Kg-1 K-1 cools from 90 0C to 40 0C. Find the quantity of heat given out.


Q = m c θ, = 60 × 10-3 × 390 × 50 = 1,170 J.


Determination of specific heat capacity

: A calorimeter is used to determine the specific heat capacity of a substance.

This uses the principle of heat gained by a substance is equal to the heat lost by another substance in contact with each other until equilibrium is achieved.

Heat losses in calorimeter are controlled such that no losses occur or they are very minimal.



  1. A 50 W heating coil is immersed in a liquid contained in an insulated flask of negligible heat capacity.

If the mass of the liquid is 10 g and its temperature increases by 10 0C in 2 minutes, find the specific heat capacity of the liquid.


Heat delivered (P t) = 50 × 2 × 60 = 2,400 J

Heat gained = 0.1 × c × 10 J

Therefore ‘c’ = 2,400 / 0.1 × 10 = 2,400 J Kg-1 K-1 2. A metal cylinder mass 0.5 kg is heated electrically.

If the voltmeter reads 15V, the ammeter 0.3A and the temperatures of the block rises from 20 0C to 85 0C in ten minutes.

Calculate the specific heat capacity of the metal cylinder.


Heat gained = heat lost, V I t = m c θ

15 × 3 × 10 × 60 = 0.5 × c × 65

c = (15 × 3 × 600)/ 0.5 × 65 = 831 J Kg-1 K-1


Fusion and latent heat of fusion

Fusion is the change of state from solid to liquid. Change of state from liquid to solid is called solidification. Latent heat of fusion is the heat energy absorbed or given out during fusion. Specific latent heat of fusion of a substance is the quantity of heat energy required to change completely 1 kg of a substance at its melting point into liquid without change in temperature.

It is represented by the symbol (L), we use the following formula, Q = m Lf


Different substances have different latent heat of fusion.

Factors affecting the melting point

  1. a) Pressure
  2. b) Dissolved substances

Specific latent heat of vaporization is the quantity of heat required to change completely 1 kg of a liquid at its normal boiling point to vapour without changing its temperature.


Q = m Lv

The SI unit for specific latent heat of vaporization is J / Kg.


An immersion heater rated 600 W is placed in water. After the water starts to boil, the heater is left on for 6 minutes.

It is found that the mass of the water had reduced by 0.10 kg in that time.

Estimate the specific heat of vaporization of steam.


Heat given out by the heater = P t = 600 × 6 × 60

Heat absorbed by steam = 0.10 × L v

Heat gained = heat lost, therefore, 600 × 6 × 60 = 0.10 × L v = 2.16 × 106 J / Kg



Factors affecting the rate of evaporation

  1. a) Temperature
  2. b) Surface area
  3. c) Draught (hot and dry surrounding)
  4. d) Humidity


Comparison between boiling and evaporation Evaporation Boiling

  1. Takes place at all temperature – takes place at a specific temperature
  2. Takes place on the surface (no bubbles formed)- takes place throughout the liquid ( bubbles formed)
  3. Decrease in atmospheric pressure increases the rate –decreases as atmospheric pressure lowers


Applications of cooling by evaporation

  1. a) Sweating
  2. b) Cooling of water in a porous pot
  3. c) The refrigerator



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