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Energy required to boil water

  1. Dec 15, 2010 #1
    1. Problem, data and attempt at a solution

    How much energy is required to boil off 3 litres of water from 20*C?

    This is not really homework, but I still thought this would be the best place to post:
    To get something to compare to in terms of energy (joule/watt), I would like to know approximately how much energy it takes to boil all the water in a standard kettle (3 litres).

    I tried doing this with data from log p H (mollier) diagrams for water:
    Enthalpy of water at 20 *C and athmospheric pressure from mollier: 86,6 kJ/kg
    Enthalpy of saturated steam (100*C): 2676,1 kJ/kg
    DeltaH= 2676,1 - 86,6 = 2589,5 kJ/kg
    3 litres of water = 3kg so: 2589,5 kJ/kg * 3 kg = 7768,5 kJ required to boil 3 litres of water.

    However when searching for this on google i only found another solution to the problem that did not match my answer using constant specific heat capacity and heat of vaporization:


    However according to wikipedia: "The specific heat capacities of substances comprising molecules (as distinct from monatomic gases) are not fixed constants and vary somewhat depending on temperature."

    So using a constant heat capacity value from 20 *C to 100 *C would be wrong, no?

    Are any of these methods viable? Which is better? They don't match up when i use his equation for my case (although I know it's partly because we have different values for heat of vaporization and it seems like he has mixed up some units in his description).
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    The specific heat of liquid water changes with temperature, but not by too much. At 20C it's 4.183 (kJ/kg/K), while at the boiling point it's 4.219. If you need great accuracy you could fit a curve and run the numbers step by step (computers are handy things).
  4. Dec 16, 2010 #3
    Ok, I've been looking at some tables to find a constant to use. They vary greatly. Here is even one from wikipedia where the specific hc is constant but the volumetric varies with temperature:

    Water at 25 °C liquid: 4.1813 J/g*K - 4.1796 J/cm3*K
    Water at 100 °C liquid: 4.1813 J/g*K - 4.2160 J/cm3*K

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_heat

    Surely this must be wrong, as 1 cm3 = 1 g for water (density 1000 kg/m3)?
  5. Dec 16, 2010 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Water changes density with temperature. In fact, it's got an 'abnormal' density versus temperature curve compared to other substances, particularly near the freezing point.
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