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Describe PE of Particles in a Gas

  1. Feb 7, 2015 #1
    I understand why there is KE in the particles of a gas but I cannot really visualize the where the PE is coming from.. please straight forward answers!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2015 #2

    Andrew Mason

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    PE would be energy by virtue of a molecule's position with respect to other molecules due to intermolecular forces. For example, it takes energy to separate water molecules from each other so they don't stick together - evaporation. That process does not result in an increase of kinetic energy (temperature). But it does require energy, so it increases the internal potential energy of the molecules. That potential energy is returned when the vapour condenses. If there are no intermolecular forces, there would be no PE.

  4. Feb 7, 2015 #3
    Thank you! very logical answer.
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