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Thomas has taught electronics and communications engineering, math, and physics and has a master's degree in electrical engineering.
Heat is the form of energy that is transferred between two substances at different temperatures. The direction of energy flow is from the substance of higher temperature to the substance of lower temperature. Heat is measured in units of energy, usually calories or joules. Heat and temperature are often used interchangeably, but this is incorrect. Temperature is the measure of hotness or coldness of matter. Stated another way, temperature is the average kinetic energy per molecule of a substance. Temperature is measured in degrees on the Celsius (C) or Fahrenheit (F) scale, or in kelvins (K). In simplest terms, temperature is how hot or cold an object is, while heat is the energy that flows from a hotter object to a cooler one. For example, the temperature of a cup of coffee may feel hot if you put your hand around it. It is hot because heat from the coffee is transferred to the cup.
Thermal expansion is a phenomenon that takes place in solids, liquids, and gases. Almost all substances expand when their temperatures increase, unless they are constrained in some manner. Examples include the heating of air in a hot air balloon, which makes the balloon expand and rise, and mercury in a thermometer, which rises in response to heat. Metal rods are used in a variety of applications also. For example, metal rods or strips that are used as expansion joints at the ends of bridge sections account for the expansion of steel bridges in hotter weather. The amount of expansion that occurs and how we predict it depends on the substance. For example, a solid metal rod generally expands linearly and increases in length, while liquids and gases experience an increase in volume. In all three cases, thermal expansion occurs in response to an increase in temperature and useful devices take advantage of this concept.
Thermodynamics is the study of heat and its transformation to mechanical energy. There are four laws of thermodynamics, but we only concentrate on the two principal laws here: the first law and second law.
The first law says that the change in internal energy of a substance equals the work done on it plus the heat transferred to it. Mathematically, we use the equation:
delta U = work + Q
Internal energy is the sum of the kinetic and potential energies of all the atoms and molecules within a substance. The significance of the first law of thermodynamics is that there are two ways to increase the temperature of a substance:
1) By exposing it to another substance that has a higher temperature and
2) By doing certain kinds of work on the substance
Friction and compression of gases are two examples of ways to increase temperature by the work method. Pistons in internal combustion engines take advantage of this concept. Air is compressed in a cylinder by the piston, which raises the temperature to almost twenty-seven times the temperature of the uncompressed state.
The second law says that heat cannot be transferred from a colder body to a hotter body without work being done by an outside agent. Stated another way, no device can be built that will repeatedly extract heat from a source and deliver mechanical energy without ejecting some heat to a lower-temperature reservoir. The perfect example is the heat engine, which is discussed later in this lesson.
Heat transfer occurs by three mechanisms: conduction, convection, and radiation.
An example of conduction is heating a pot of water on an electric stove. The bottom of the pan is in contact with the hot stove top. Heat flows from the burner to the bottom of the pan and even up the sides and possibly to the handle. Conduction also occurs between the pan and the water, which are also in contact with each other. An example of convection is a forced-air heating system. Warm air is blown and mixed with cooler air to cause heating of the cooler air by the warmer air. An example of heat transfer by radiation is the sun or a hot fire. The sun radiates electromagnetic waves that heat the earth as does a fire that heats your hands or body when you move near. Combinations of these mechanisms are also used. An example is the heating of a home that uses all three principles. Using insulation in the house actually reduces the conduction of heat from hot surfaces inside the house to the colder surfaces outside. A forced-air system along with allowing sunlight into the house can be used inside as well.
The specific heat capacity, or just specific heat, is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of a unit mass (e.g., one gram, one kilogram, etc.) of a substance by one degree Celsius. The specific heat of pure water is 4180 joules per kilogram-degree Celsius, which means 4180 joules of energy are required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of pure water 1 degree C. Practical uses for specific heat itself are sparse, so it is usually used to calculate other quantities. One comparison of different specific heats is that the energy needed to heat five cups of water to boiling, is about the same as the energy needed to accelerate a small car to 60 miles per hour.
A heat engine is a device that transforms heat into mechanical energy. It absorbs heat from a hot source such as burning fuel, converts some of this energy into usable mechanical energy, and outputs the remaining energy as heat to some lower-temperature reservoir. The heat engine is the implementation of the second law of thermodynamics. Fossil fuels such as coal, energy, and natural gas are usually used as the energy input for heat engines. Gasoline, diesel, and jet engines as well as coal-fired power plants are examples of heat engines. According to the second law, not all of the energy input into a heat engine is converted into usable mechanical work. Stated another way, no device can convert 100% of the input heat into mechanical energy. Therefore, a heat engine has a certain efficiency, which describes how much of the heat it can convert into a usable output. Mathematically, the formula is:
efficiency = (energy output / energy input) x 100
For example, if a device is 50% efficient, it converts half of the input energy into mechanical energy and the other half is wasted. The maximum efficiency of a heat engine, which is called the Carnot efficiency after the French engineer Sadi Carnot, depends on the temperatures of the heat source and of the lower-temperature reservoir.
Heat and temperature are often used interchangeably, but are actually two different things. Heat is the energy that is transferred from two substances at different temperatures and flows from hot to cold. Temperature is a measure of how hot or cold a substance is. This lesson also explored several practical applications of heat, including thermal expansion, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, heat transfer, specific heat, and heat engines.
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Back To CourseGED Science: Tutoring Solution
34 chapters | 724 lessons