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Thermal Energy, Heat and Temperature

1. Heat is the flow of thermal energy.


2. Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy which each molecule of an object
possesses.

Thermal Energy and Heat

1. Thermal energy is a measure of the sum of kinetic and potential energy in all the
molecules or atoms in an object.
2. The SI unit of thermal energy is Joule, J.
3. Heat is the flow of thermal energy, from a hotter body to a colder one.

Temperature

1. Temperature is a physical quantity which measures the degree of hotness of an object.


2. Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy which each molecule of an
object possesses.
3. One object is at a higher temperature than another if the average kinetic energy of each of
its molecules is greater.
4. The SI unit of temperature is Kelvin, K.

Differences between Thermal Energy and Temperature

Thermal Energy Temperature


A form of Energy Degree of hotness of an object.
Unit: Joule (J) Unit: Kelvin (K)/ Degree Celsius (oC)
Sum of the kinetic energy and potential energy Average kinetic energy of the particles.
of the particles.
Derived quantity Base quantity
Thermal Equilibrium

1. Two objects are in thermal contact when heat energy can be transferred between
them.
2. Two objects are in thermal equilibrium when there is no net flow of heat between two
objects that are in thermal equilibrium.
3. Two objects in thermal equilibrium have the same temperature.

Example:
Figure below shows 2 blocks in thermal contact with each other. Initially, the temperature of the
2 blocks are different, and there is a net flow of thermal energy from higher temperature to lower
temperature.

After some time, thermal equilibrium achieved, where the temperature of the 2 blocks become
the same, and there is no net flow of thermal energy between the 2 blocks.

Before

1. Initially, the temperature of block A is higher than block B.


2. The rate of thermal energy transfer is higher from block A to the block B (1000J/s).
3. There is also thermal energy transfer from the block B to block A, but with lower rate
(only at 200J/s).
4. Therefore, there is a net heat flow of thermal energy from the block A to block B.
5. As a result, the temperature of block A decreases whereas the temperature of B increases.
After

1. Thermal Equilibrium Achieved.


2. The temperature of the 2 blocks become the same.
3. Heat flow is still goes on between the blocks.
4. However, the rate of flow of heat are equal in both direction. As a result, the net heat
flow is equal to 0.

Applications of Thermal Equilibrium


Oven
1. When food such as meat or cake is put in the oven, the heat of the oven is transferred into the
food.
2. This process will continue until the food is in thermal equilibrium with the air in the oven.
3. This happen when the temperature of the food is equal to the temperature of the air in the
oven.

Refrigerator

1. When food is put in the refrigerator, the heat from the food is transferred into the air of the
refrigerator.
2. This process is continued until the temperature of the food equal to the temperature of the air
in the refrigerator, when thermal equilibrium is reached between the food and the refrigerator.
Thermometer

1. Thermometer is placed in contact with the patients body.


2. If both the body temperature of the patient and that of the mercury (or alcohol) in the clinical
thermometer have reached thermal equilibrium, then the temperature of the thermometer is
the same as the body temperature, hence the reading of the thermometer shows the body
temperature of the patient.

Liquid in Glass Thermometer

1. Liquid in glass thermometer works on the principle that liquid expands as the temperature
increases and contracts as the temperature decreases.
2. The most commonly used liquids in such thermometers are
a. Mercury
b. Alcohol

Q&A

Q: State the advantageous and disadvantageous of using mercury as the liquid in a liquid in glass
thermometer.

A:
Advantageous:

1. Doesnt wet the wall of the capillary tube.


2. Can be seen easily
3. Expand uniformly when heated
4. Good heat conductor

Disadvantageous:

1. Freezing point = -39C. Not suitable to measure temperature lower than -39C.
2. Poisonous
3. Expensive
Q&A

Q: State the advantageous and disadvantageous of using alcohol as the liquid in a liquid in glass
thermometer.

A:
Advantageous:

1. Freezing point = -115C. Suitable for measuring low temperature.


2. Expands greater than mercury.

Disadvantageous:

1. Transparent. Difficult to be seen. Need to be coloured.


2. Always cling the wall of the capillary tube.
3. Has tendency to break the tube at high temperature.

Q&A

Q: State the characteristics of the liquid used in a liquid in glass thermometer.

A:

1. Easily visible
2. Good conductor of heat
3. Expand and contract rapidly over a wide range of temperature
4. Does not cling to the wall of the capillary tube of the thermometer.

Q&A

Q: State and explain how the sensitivity of a liquid in glass thermometer can be increased.

A:

1. The sensitivity of a mercury thermometer can be increased by using a smaller mercury


bulb, thinner wall and smaller bore.
2. A smaller bulb contains less mercury and hence absorbs heat in shorter time. As a result
it can response faster to temperature change.
3. A glass bulb with thinner wall can transfer heat to the bulb easier. Therefore, the
thermometer can response quickly to small changes of temperature near the surrounding.
4. Capillary with narrow bore produces a greater change in the length of the mercury
column. Therefore a small change in temperature can be detected easily.
Calibrating a Thermometer

1. To calibrate a thermometer means to put the correct mark of reading at the correct place
so that other temperature can be deduced from these marks.
2. To do this, two extreme points are chosen to mark its scale and these points must be able
to be reproduced accurately.
3. Usually, we take the steam point of pure water as 100C and the ice point of water as
0C.

To calibrate a thermometer, the ice point of water is usually taken to be 0C

To calibrate a thermometer, the steam point is taken to be 100C

5. After determining the position of the ice point and steam point, the temperature of an
object can be determined by using the formula:
Absolute zero and the Kelvin temperature scale

1. Absolute temperature is the temperature measured in Kelvin scale, which it is a


temperature reading made relative to absolute zero.
2. We can convert a temperature in C to absolute temperature by adding 273 to the
temperature.

For example:
25C = 273 + 25 = 298 K
100C = 273 + 100 = 373 K

3. Absolute zero is the temperature where thermal energy is at minimum. It is 0 on the


Kelvin scale and -273 on the Celsius scale.