Heat Capacity vs Entropy: Difference and Comparison

Heat capacity and entropy are two sides of the same coin. They are closely related scientific concepts that are interdependent and can be studied in relation to one another.

Heat capacity is a measurable concept, whereas entropy is more abstract.

Key Takeaways

  1. Heat capacity represents the heat required to change a substance’s temperature by one degree, while entropy measures the disorder or randomness in a system.
  2. Heat capacity is an extensive property dependent on the amount of substance, whereas entropy is a state function that depends on the system’s current state.
  3. Both heat capacity and entropy play crucial roles in understanding thermodynamics and predicting the outcomes of heat-related processes.

Heat Capacity vs Entropy

Heat capacity is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a substance by one degree Celsius or Kelvin. Entropy is a measure of the disorder or randomness of a system, defined as the amount of heat energy that cannot be converted into useful work as the system reaches thermal equilibrium.

Heat Capacity vs Entropy

Heat capacity refers to the physical property of matter that is attributed to the amount of heat imparted to an object that further results in a difference in the temperature of the said object by a unit.

Heat capacity is also known as thermal capacity. Joule per kelvin, commonly written as J/K, is recognized as the heat or thermal capacity’s official SI.

Entropy is defined as a thermodynamic quantity that is used to represent the amount of thermal energy of a given system that is not feasible for converting it into any productive work.

It is a scientific concept used in calculating and observing the uncertainty, disorder, randomness, or chaos seen in a system.

The concept of entropy helps study the direction of spontaneous change. Entropy is widely used to analyze common phenomena.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHeat CapacityEntropy
MeaningIt refers to the change in the temperature of an object. This change is a result of the energy absorbed. It is the counting of the specific systems that a material can be found under, given the known thermodynamic parameters.
DependencyBoth material and process-dependent, it measures the change in temperature of the object and can be both reversible and irreversible.Independent of any object or material, most processes are, however, irreversible, making them process-dependent.
ValueAn absolute value of heat capacity can be determined via experimentationThe absolute value of entropy cannot be determined. However, entropy can be expressed using relative values.
RelationHeat capacity is the rate of change of entropy with temperature.Entropy is calculated as the cumulative filling of energy destinations between absolute zero (motionless) and a given temperature.
CalculationQ= mcΔT
Q = heat energy
m = mass
c = specific heat
ΔT = change in temperature
S= kblnΩ
S = entropy
kb = Boltzmann constant
ln = natural logarithm
Ω = number of microscopic configurations

What is Heat Capacity?

Heat capacity measures the difference in temperature of an object or material when energy is absorbed or imparted by the material.

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It is the property of matter that is physical in nature, calculating the amount of energy that the above-mentioned object must absorb for it to produce a change in its core temperature by a single unit.

Heat capacity is studied to be an extensive property.

The value of heat that has to be added or introduced to the given object or material to raise its temperature varies according to the initial temperature of the product in question and the amount of pressure that is applied.

The amount of heat to be added also varies with the phase transitions, such as vaporization or melting. 

The process of finding heat capacity is rather simple for any given object.

The object is first measured, and slowly a specific amount of heat is introduced to it and observed for the temperature to become uniform again. Later, the change in the temperature is measured and noted.

This method of attempting to calculate the heat capacity of material works best for gases and offers less precise measurements in the case of solids.

The SI unit is joule per kelvin or alternatively J/K or J⋅K−1 for heat capacity. The heat capacity of any given object is the amount of energy divided by a temperature change.

What is Entropy?

Entropy is a scientific concept that can be studied as a measurable physical property. It is defined as the quantitative measure of randomness, disorder, or chaos in any given system.

Located under thermodynamics, this concept deals with the transfer of heat energy within a system.

Entropy is pivotal and plays a key role in the second law of thermodynamics.

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Referred to by Scottish scientist and engineer Macquorn Rankine in 1850, the concept of thermodynamics was named in a variety of different ways, such as thermodynamic function and heat potential.

Instead of some form of “absolute entropy,” physicists study the change in entropy that occurs in a specific thermodynamic process.

The entropy change is material-independent and process-dependent, as certain processes are irreversible or impossible.

It has been observed that the entropy change is proportional to the heat transfer in a reversible process (at constant temperature).

However, most processes are irreversible, so the quantity is process-dependent.

The entropy counts the number of specific states in which the system can be found, given the known thermodynamic parameters.

Entropy can be studied via two approaches: the macroscopic and microscopic perspectives of classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, respectively.

Main Differences Between Heat Capacity and Entropy

  1. The difference between heat capacity and entropy is that while heat capacity is dependent on the material or object, like measuring the change in its temperature when the material absorbs energy, entropy, on the other hand, does not rely on any object.
  2. Entropy counts the number of specific states that the system can be found in, given the thermodynamic parameters known, whereas heat capacity measures the degree change in temperature.
  3. Heat capacity is both material and process dependent. Entropy is material-independent and process-dependent.
  4. Heat capacity is the rate of change of entropy with temperature. Entropy is a known scientific concept that measures the system in question’s thermal energy for a unit that is unavailable for any work of effect.
  5. Heat capacity has an absolute value, whereas entropy does not have an absolute value.
  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ja01298a023
  2. https://newbedev.com/difference-between-heat-capacity-and-entropy

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Heat Capacity vs Entropy: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I found the detailed explanation of heat capacity and entropy to be very informative. The article effectively explains the importance of both concepts in understanding energy transfer and thermodynamic processes.

  2. The comprehensive explanation of heat capacity and entropy provides a clear understanding of their respective properties and roles in thermodynamics. The article effectively conveys the interdependent nature of these scientific concepts.

  3. This is a very informative article that provides a clear explanation of the concepts of heat capacity and entropy. The distinction between the two and their significance in thermodynamics is well illustrated.

  4. The comparison table is particularly helpful in understanding the key differences between heat capacity and entropy. It’s interesting to note how heat capacity is material-dependent and entropy is process-dependent.

  5. The detailed explanation of the process of finding heat capacity and its relevance to phase transitions is quite insightful. Likewise, the overview of how entropy is studied from macroscopic and microscopic perspectives is very interesting.

  6. The article offers a thorough overview of heat capacity and entropy, emphasizing their significance in thermodynamics and energy transfer. The detailed comparison table provides a useful reference for understanding the key differences between the two concepts.

  7. The article provides a detailed comparison of heat capacity and entropy, highlighting their distinct properties and measurements. It’s a valuable resource for understanding these essential concepts in thermodynamics.

  8. The article provides a comprehensive understanding of both heat capacity and entropy, along with their significance in thermodynamics and energy transfer processes. The comparison of their calculations and values is particularly illuminating.

  9. The explanation of the difference between heat capacity and entropy is clear and well-structured. The article effectively presents the significant role of both concepts in thermodynamics and energy-related processes.

  10. I appreciate the comprehensive explanation of heat capacity and its measurement in relation to temperature change. Also, the overview of entropy and its role in thermodynamics is elucidating.


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