Specific Heat vs Thermal Capacity: Difference and Comparison

Heat and Heat Capacity are the terms of our daily life, especially in the case of cooking, ironing through which we start our routine. Having warm water is a process that is related to Specific Heat and Thermal Capacity.

They both are unique terminologies. Heat is the form of energy and energy can be stored as well as transferred.

Key Takeaways

  1. Specific heat is an intrinsic property of a substance that determines its ability to absorb heat without changing temperature. At the same time, the thermal capacity is an extrinsic property that depends on specific heat and mass.
  2. Specific heat is measured in J/(kg·K) units, whereas thermal capacity is measured in joules per kelvin (J/K).
  3. The higher the specific heat of a substance, the more heat it can absorb without a significant temperature change. In contrast, higher thermal capacity means a greater overall ability to store heat energy.

Specific Heat vs Thermal Capacity

The difference between Specific Heat and Thermal capacity is that Specific Heat is the total amount of heat consumption required to pull up the temperature of an available object by one kelvin,. In contrast, Thermal Capacity is variation in temperature regarding the total amount of necessary heat varies as per the thing.

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The term Specific Heat is used for objects that require low heating temperatures. It is calculated through an object’s adequate amount of Heat gained or lost.

It allows the measurement of the atomic weights of a compound. Specific Heat is helpful in the calculation of the heat energy holding capacity of an object.

Thermal capacity is used in physics to calculate the heating temperature of an object. It is used for making insulated pieces of equipment that are needed for heat transportation.

The process carried by thermal capacity is prominent for copper, shows high electricals, etc. The heating temperature is high in the case of Thermal power.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSpecific HeatThermal Capacity
Scientific SignThe scientific symbol or sign for Thermal Capacity is the Capital letter alphabet “C”.The value of  Heat required is calculated as per this method Q = mc T
Calculation MethodThe value of Thermal capacity is calculated as per this method  C = Q/ T  Thermal capacity has a significant dependency on mass support.
Mass supportIt is not the criteria in the case of Specific Heat.And, Thermal capacity has a standard unit of Joule per Kelvin.
Standard UnitThe Standard unit for Specific heat is Joule per kilogram per kelvin.The kind and phase of an object impacts Specific Heat.
FactorThe Standard unit for Specific Heat is Joule per kilogram per kelvin.Specific Heat is impacted by the kind and phase of an object.

What is Specific Heat?

The Specific Heat varies with the shift in the inversion of heat energy. Heat adding capacity of a substance is derived with the help of Specific Heat.

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Joseph Black was the first person who experimented with Specific Heat in the 18th century; He was a medical scientist and a professor at Glasgow University. 

The temperature of Heat does not increase while in transition mode. Specific Heat can boil or melt while changing its state in the transition phase.

It is calculated for gases, liquids, and solids. For gases, the specific Heat is calculated at a constant position.

Apart from Physics, Specific Heat is also counted in chemistry for measuring the total amount of calories. Water has the highest Specific Heat amount on Earth.

In the specific cases of gases, there are infinite values for specific Heat. The Scientific Symbol for Specific Heat is a small ,“c” and “s” alphabet.

The manufacturing Handles of kettles and saucepans are some equipment that require low heat conductivity, and specific Heat is used in making them.

Specific Heat is majorly dependent upon the properties of an object for calculating the referral measurement. (J Kg⎺1 K⎺1) or Joule per kilogram per degree Celsius is the standard unit of the Specific Heat.

What is Thermal Capacity?

Thermal capacity is the term used in place of the Heat capacity of an element in science. Joule per Kelvin is the Standard unit for Thermal Capacity. It has a feature of an extensive property.

At the highest temperature level, the thermal capacity per atom is almost the same for every element. 

As per Physics, the Thermal Capacity of an object is measured by the heat supply level to the thing to increase its temperature up to 1K. The prevalent example of Thermal capacity is metal and milk.

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Copper heats up very fast and cools down as soon since it has a low Thermal Capacity, whereas Milk takes time to boil up and cool down. This explains their capacity for Thermal Energy. 

The highest level of Thermal Capacity is found in water since it requires a tremendous amount of Heat to get hot. Every element has a high Thermal Capacity and consumes lots of heat energy.

Unlike Specific Heat, the Thermal Capacity does not have any intensive variable. The Scientific symbol for Thermal capacity is the capital letter alphabet “C”.

Apart from the Thermal Capacity of any substance, the quantity of any substance also plays a significant role in heat consumption, which does not represent their actual Thermal Capacity.

Main Differences Between Specific Heat and Thermal Capacity

  1. Additional Names: Specific Heat is also known as Massic Heat Capacity and Thermal Capacity is also called Heat Capacity in general.
  2. Meaning: Specific Heat refers to the amount of Heat stored in an object on the contrary Thermal Capacity refers to the Heat moving within the different source of systems or in a sole system.
  3. Equipment used: Specific Heat is required in equipment like saucepans and kettles and Thermal capacity is required in equipment like thermal insulators.
  4. Objective: the objective of Specific Heat is the storage of Heat, on the other hand, Thermal Capacity has the object of transportation of Heat.
  5. Concept: Specific Heat is the concept required in making cooking tools like the cooker and Thermal Heat is the concept required in the making of  materials similar to heat sink etc.
References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S147470650300069X
  2. https://academic.oup.com/jge/article/2/4/349/5078234?login=true

Last Updated : 05 July, 2023

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6 thoughts on “Specific Heat vs Thermal Capacity: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This post is very enlightening. I admire the in-depth analysis of specific heat and thermal capacity. It’s certainly thought-provoking.

    Reply
  2. It’s great to learn more about these physical properties. This post provides a clear explanation for anyone interested in the topic of heat and heat capacity.

    Reply
  3. This information is very informative and useful. I appreciate the detailed comparison between specific heat and thermal capacity.

    Reply
  4. The use of capitals and scientific symbols in the comparison table makes it easier to understand the differences between specific heat and thermal capacity. Well done!

    Reply
  5. While the post is well-written and informative, it could benefit from additional real-world examples to further illustrate the points being made.

    Reply

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