What is the difference between specific and latent heat?

1 Answer | Add Yours

enginr's profile pic

enginr | College Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Specific heat and latent heat are intensive material properties. Intensive properties are properties of a material which don't vary depending on the amount of mass present. For example, if a block of lead is cut into two pieces, the specific heat and latent heat of the two pieces will be the same as that of the original large block.

Specific heat is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a mass by one degree Celsius. Specific heat is expressed in units of energy per unit mass per degree. The equation for specific heat (c) is

`c = (DeltaQ)/(m*DeltaT)`   

where `DeltaQ` is the energy required for the change in temperature, m is the mass, and `DeltaT` is the change in temperature.

Latent heat is the amount of energy needed to change the physical state of a certain mass. For example, the amount of heat needed to change water from a liquid to a gas is called the latent heat of vaporization. Latent heat is expressed in units of energy per unit mass. The equation for latent heat (L) is

`L = Q / m` 

where Q is the required energy and m is the mass. It is important to note that changes in physical state occur at constant temperature. Furthermore, specific latent heat is the energy needed to change the physical state of 1 kg of a particular substance.

We’ve answered 318,932 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question