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Calculate Specific Heat Capacity

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Particles are vibrating all the time, moving around all over the place and bashing into their neighbouring particles. We have a special scientific term for this -  we call it heat!  Heat, as a term, simply means the movement (or vibration) of particles. This means that we can get stuff really hot here on Earth. Did you know that the hottest place in the solar system is not the sun, but a place called JET in Oxford! It's reached temperatures of over 50 million degrees – that's over 20 times the temperature of the sun.

 

Okay, so we know that when we get stuff really hot, all we are really doing is making the particles move around more – but did you know that some particles are harder to make move than others? Anyone who has put a pot of water on the stove to boil will tell you it takes AGES, but what about making a chunk of metal reach this same temperature? Well, it takes much less time thanks to something we call the specific heat capacity (or SHC for short).

 

SHC is literally just a measurement of the amount of energy it takes to heat up 1 kg of a material by 1°C and it has the unit of (are you ready for this?!) -  joules per kilogram degrees Celsius (J/kg°C). We can work this out by using the following equation:

 

energy transferred = mass × specific heat capacity × temperature change


To be really helpful, you will NOT need to remember this equation in the exam – you’ll just need to make sure that you can remember which number is which!

 

So, let’s go through an example question and how you might answer it:

 

A block of aluminium has a specific heat capacity of 900 J/kgoC and is heated from a starting temperature of 0 to a final temperature of 100oC. The mass of the block is 4 kg. How much energy is transferred to the object?

You can answer a question like this in stages:

 

1  Find all of the numbers and underline them like this:

A block of aluminium has a specific heat capacity of 900 J/kgoC and is heated from a starting temperature of 0 to a final temperature of 100oC. The mass of the block is 4 kg. How much energy is transferred to the object?

 

2  Good, now we need to find out where they all fit into the equation. Write them out and put the corresponding number next to them like this:

Mass = 4 kg

Specific Heat Capacity = 900 J/kgoC

Temperature change = 0 – 100

 

3  Oh no! There is a temperature change, so work out what the difference is (super hard right?)

Mass = 4 kg

Specific Heat Capacity = 900 J/kgoC

Temperature change = 100 – 0 = 100oC

 

4  Finally, write them into the equation, put the numbers in the calculator and press =

Energy = 4 x 900 x 100

Energy = 360,000 J

 

Don’t forget your units! And make sure you always write out every step – this way the examiner can follow what you are thinking and might be able to give you some marks even if you don’t get the answer right.

 

Right then, are you ready to have a go at some yourself?

What happens to particles when you cool them down?

They vibrate more

They vibrate less

There is no change

Match the following measurements to their units. 

Column A

Column B

Energy
Degrees Celsius (oC)
Mass
Joules (J)
Temperature
Kilograms (kg)
Specific Heat Capacity
Joules per kilogram degrees Celsius (J/kgo

What is the correct definition of specific heat capacity

A measurement of the amount of energy it takes to heat up 1 kg of a material

A measurement of the amount of energy needed to change from a liquid to a gas

A measurement of how much energy is used to heat up water

A measurement of the amount of energy it takes to heat up 1 kg of a material by 1OC

Is the following statement true or false?

 

A substance with a higher specific heat capacity takes more energy to heat up.

True

False

A 2 kg block of aluminium is heated from 20oC to 80oC. How much energy is transferred in this heating experiment? 

 

Specific heat capacity of aluminium = 900 J/kgoC.

 

energy transferred = mass x specific heat transfer x temperature change

True

False

1 kg of water is raised from 20oC to its boiling point. How much energy is used to do this?

 

Specific heat capacity of water = 4200 J/kgoC.

True

False

Which will take more energy to heat up, 1 kg of water or 1 kg of lithium?

Specific heat capacity of water = 4200 J/kgoC.

Specific heat capacity of lithium = 3.56 J/kgoC.

Water

Lithium

Mercury has a specific heat capacity of 140 J/kg°C.

Calculate the energy transferred in kJ when 50 kg of mercury is heated from 20°C to 25°C.

Water

Lithium

A skyscraper has 450,000,000 kg of steel in it. During the night, the steel falls to a temperature of 10oC but in the peak midday sun, it reaches a high of 32oC.

If the steel has a specific heat capacity of 510 J/kgoC, how much energy does the steel gain from the sun? Give your answer in mega joules

 

energy transferred = mass x specific heat capacity x temperature change

Water

Lithium

Do the following items need a high or low specific heat capacity to be good at their jobs? 

 High SHCLow SHC
Frying Pan
Wall Insulation
Metal Heating Wire
Plants
Butter
  • Question 1

What happens to particles when you cool them down?

CORRECT ANSWER
They vibrate less
EDDIE SAYS
That's the first question ticked off - only nine more to go! Heat energy is stored as the movement of particles, so the more heat there is, the more those particles can move. In the same way, if there is less heat then the particles will move less.
  • Question 2

Match the following measurements to their units. 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Energy
Joules (J)
Mass
Kilograms (kg)
Temperature
Degrees Celsius (oC)
Specific Heat Capacity
Joules per kilogram degrees Celsi...
EDDIE SAYS
How are your matching skills? If you're ever stuck with a question like this, match the ones you are certain of first which will make it easier to find the trickier ones. You need to know your units! If you can remember these, you can remember what word to associate them with when the examiner tells you the equation - all you need to do is match the symbols to the words and Bob's your uncle!
  • Question 3

What is the correct definition of specific heat capacity

CORRECT ANSWER
A measurement of the amount of energy it takes to heat up 1 kg of a material by 1OC
EDDIE SAYS
A couple of confusing options here - don't worry if you were tempted by the first one. While you don't need to remember the equation as it will be given to you in the exam, you will need to remember all of the definitions. That means that you'll have to remember this definition!
  • Question 4

Is the following statement true or false?

 

A substance with a higher specific heat capacity takes more energy to heat up.

CORRECT ANSWER
True
EDDIE SAYS
That was quite a tough question, wasn't it? Specific heat capacity is a measurement of the amount of energy it takes to heat up a substance. This means that if it has a higher specific heat capacity, it will take more energy to heat it to the same temperature as another substance with a lower specific heat capacity.
  • Question 5

A 2 kg block of aluminium is heated from 20oC to 80oC. How much energy is transferred in this heating experiment? 

 

Specific heat capacity of aluminium = 900 J/kgoC.

 

energy transferred = mass x specific heat transfer x temperature change

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
At last, a chance to use that amazing equation! How did you get on? Mass = 2 kg Change in temperature = 80 - 20 = 60oC Specific heat capacity = 900 J/kgoC. Energy = 2 x 900 x 60 Energy = 108,000 J
  • Question 6

1 kg of water is raised from 20oC to its boiling point. How much energy is used to do this?

 

Specific heat capacity of water = 4200 J/kgoC.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
You're on a roll now! Just work through the steps, one at a time, and you'll get the answer. Mass = 1 kg Change in temperature = 100 (boiling point of water) - 20 = 80oC Specific heat capacity= 4200 J/kgoC. Energy = 1 x 4200 x 80 Energy = 336,000 J
  • Question 7

Which will take more energy to heat up, 1 kg of water or 1 kg of lithium?

Specific heat capacity of water = 4200 J/kgoC.

Specific heat capacity of lithium = 3.56 J/kgoC.

CORRECT ANSWER
Water
EDDIE SAYS
Another tricky one here. The higher the specific heat capacity, the more energy it takes to heat it up. You could try and work it out by looking at the specific heat capacity - the one with the highest will always use the most energy. A handy tip for saving time in the exam!
  • Question 8

Mercury has a specific heat capacity of 140 J/kg°C.

Calculate the energy transferred in kJ when 50 kg of mercury is heated from 20°C to 25°C.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Goodness, this was a challenging one! Mass = 50 Specific heat capacity = 140 J/ kgoC Change in temperature = 25 - 20 = 5oC Energy transferred = 50 x 140 x 5 = 35 000 J Almost there but there's one more thing to do - you need to convert this to kJ (kilojoules), so divide it by 1000. 35000 ÷ 1000 = 35 kJ You would still get some marks for writing 35000, just not full marks. Don't feel too bad if you forgot to convert it to kJ, just remember for next time.
  • Question 9

A skyscraper has 450,000,000 kg of steel in it. During the night, the steel falls to a temperature of 10oC but in the peak midday sun, it reaches a high of 32oC.

If the steel has a specific heat capacity of 510 J/kgoC, how much energy does the steel gain from the sun? Give your answer in mega joules

 

energy transferred = mass x specific heat capacity x temperature change

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Don't be put off by all the details above! Just look for the numbers and follow the path that has been laid out for you by the equation. Mass = 450,000,000 kg SHC = 510 J/kgoC Change in temperature = 32 - 10 = 12oC Energy = 450,000,000 x 510 x 12 Energy = 2.754 x 1011 There are 1,000,000 joules in a mega joule so you need to divide your answer by 1,000,000 to convert it into mega joules. Energy in MJ = 2.754 x 1011 ÷ 1,000,000 Energy in MJ = 275,400 MJ Phew - well done if you got this one correct!!
  • Question 10

Do the following items need a high or low specific heat capacity to be good at their jobs? 

CORRECT ANSWER
 High SHCLow SHC
Frying Pan
Wall Insulation
Metal Heating Wire
Plants
Butter
EDDIE SAYS
Another tricky question to finish with! Things that you want to get hot quickly need to have a low SHC, but things that you want to get hot slowly need a high SHC. Well done for reaching the end of this activity. Don't worry if it was rather challenging - it will become easier the more you practise.
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