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Thermochemistry Question

  1. Feb 2, 2014 #1
    Hello,

    I am currently studying intro to thermochemistry. I noticed in some problem solutions the equation q=mc(Tf-Ti) but in other the equation is q=c(Tf-Ti). How come sometimes the mass is not used in the equation? When do you know which one to use?

    Thanks!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2014 #2
    In one case you are using the Heat Capacity which has units of J/K, in the other case they are using the Specific Heat Capacity which has units of J/(gK) or J/(molK). The latter is an intensive property of a system, meaning you don't have to worry about how much material you have, whereas the former can change depending on how much material you are working with. To intuitively understand this a little better just consider that 1g of water will have a much greater change in temperature when absorbing 1 J of energy whereas 1000g of water may hardly change temperature at all.

    The relation between them is nCs = C, where I will define n to be the relevant mass unit (either moles or grams), Cs = specific heat capacity, and C = heat capacity.
     
  4. Feb 3, 2014 #3
    The second one is "per unit mass", where the "unit mass" has to be in units consistent with the rest of the equation.
     
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