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SPECIFIC HEAT OF METALS

Leachon, Rachel Caroline V.


AE-BSA, School of Economics, De La Salle University
2401 Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila, Philippines
rachel_leachon@dlsu.edu.ph

I. Introduction
Some metals heat more easily than others where the same amount of energy causes
different kinds of metals to change in temperature by different amounts. This is due to the
ability of a substance to be heated by transfer of energy, called heat capacity. On the other
hand, the ability of a single gram of a specific matter required to absorb in order to
change its temperature by one degree is called specific heat. In this experiment, a
calorimeter and water is used to determine the specific heat of metal. It should be noted
that water has a standard specific heat wherein, specific heat of other substances are
compared. It is also assumed that the amount of energy inside the calorimeter is
conserved. This means that the amount of energy loss by the metal is equal to the energy
gain by water. With this, it can be said the change in energy is dependent on the mass,
specific heat and change in temperature.

II. Objective
The main objective of this experiment is to prove that the amount of energy released by
the metals would be equal to the amount of energy gained by water. In addition, we
should also determine how the change of thermal energy (Q) affects mass ( m ,
specific heat (c ) and change in temperature T ) of metals.

Q=mc T
(Equation 1)

III. Methodology
Two different kinds of metal were heated up to 100 oC in an electric steam generator and
were submerged in separate calorimeters which contain equal amounts of cold water (see
Figure 1). When the hot metals were submerged in the calorimeter, we compared which
metal had a greater temperature change by measuring using the temperature probe and
calculated using the equation given. In this experiment, the calorimeters and metals were
initially weighed to get the mass of the objects. Aside from that, the initial and final
temperature of the water, and metals placed in the hot and cold water were recorded in
order for us to get the change in temperature. It should be noted that there should be no
water residing in the metal when placing in the calorimeter. Carefully, wipe off the excess
water in the hot metals using a cloth.
Figure 1. The experimental setup. (1) electric steam generator, (2) calorimeter, (3) two different metal
of equal mass, and (4) Temperature probe

IV. Results and Discussion


The table below shows the data gathered in this experiment. The specific heat of metals
C
were calculated using equation 2 where the specific heat of the two metals ( metal)

were obtained using the formula,

( mass x specific heat x changetemperature)wate r


Cmetal = (Equation 2)
(mass x changetemperature)metal

Item Metal 1 Metal 2


Mass of object 0.2 kg 0.2 kg
Mass of cup 0.015 kg 0.015 kg
Mass of cup plus water 0.13 kg 0.25 kg
Mass of water 0.115 kg 0.2485 kg
Initial temperature of object 100 oC 100 oC
Initial temperature of cold water 24.4 oC 26.1 oC
Final temperature of object 28 oC 31.1 oC
Final temperature of cold water 28 oC 31.1 oC
Calculated specific heat of metal (J/Kg Co) 120.35 377.44
Kind of metal Lead Copper
Accepted value of specific heat of metal (J/Kg Co) 128 386
% Error 5.98 2.22
It can be seen that the specific heat of copper is greater than the specific heat of lead,
which shows that copper needs more thermal energy so that heat can be transferred.
Conversely, lead needs a small amount of thermal energy for heat transfer to occur.

V. Conclusion
Based from the results, it can be seen that the percentage of errors generated are quite small.
This proves that the results of the experiment verify that due to the law of conservation of
energy, heat loss of metal is equal to the heat gain of water. In addition, an object that is
denser requires lower specific heat since it is easier for heat transfer to occur. Conversely, if
an object is less dense, it requires more specific heat. Possible causes of error in this
experiment are the excess water on the metal and if the calorimeter used is not dry, which
will compromise the mass of the cold water. Another possible cause is the temperature of the
atmosphere that will be going in and out of the calorimeter that will compromise the change
in temperature.