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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Solve problems involving heat transfer to and from ideal monatomic gases whose volumes are held constant
  • Solve similar problems for non-monatomic ideal gases based on the number of degrees of freedom of a molecule
  • Estimate the heat capacities of metals using a model based on degrees of freedom

In the chapter on temperature and heat, we defined the specific heat capacity with the equation Q = m c Δ T , or c = ( 1 / m ) Q / Δ T . However, the properties of an ideal gas depend directly on the number of moles in a sample, so here we define specific heat capacity in terms of the number of moles, not the mass. Furthermore, when talking about solids and liquids, we ignored any changes in volume and pressure with changes in temperature—a good approximation for solids and liquids, but for gases, we have to make some condition on volume or pressure changes. Here, we focus on the heat capacity with the volume held constant. We can calculate it for an ideal gas.

Heat capacity of an ideal monatomic gas at constant volume

We define the molar heat capacity at constant volume C V as

C V = 1 n Q Δ T , with V held constant .

This is often expressed in the form

Q = n C V Δ T .

If the volume does not change, there is no overall displacement, so no work is done, and the only change in internal energy is due to the heat flow Δ E int = Q . (This statement is discussed further in the next chapter.) We use the equation E int = 3 n R T / 2 to write Δ E int = 3 n R Δ T / 2 and substitute Δ E for Q to find Q = 3 n R Δ T / 2 , which gives the following simple result for an ideal monatomic gas:

C V = 3 2 R .

It is independent of temperature, which justifies our use of finite differences instead of a derivative. This formula agrees well with experimental results.

In the next chapter we discuss the molar specific heat at constant pressure C p , which is always greater than C V .

Calculating temperature

A sample of 0.125 kg of xenon is contained in a rigid metal cylinder, big enough that the xenon can be modeled as an ideal gas, at a temperature of 20.0 °C . The cylinder is moved outside on a hot summer day. As the xenon comes into equilibrium by reaching the temperature of its surroundings, 180 J of heat are conducted to it through the cylinder walls. What is the equilibrium temperature? Ignore the expansion of the metal cylinder.


  1. Identify the knowns: We know the initial temperature T 1 is 20.0 °C , the heat Q is 180 J, and the mass m of the xenon is 0.125 kg.
  2. Identify the unknown. We need the final temperature, so we’ll need Δ T .
  3. Determine which equations are needed. Because xenon gas is monatomic, we can use Q = 3 n R Δ T / 2 . Then we need the number of moles, n = m / M .
  4. Substitute the known values into the equations and solve for the unknowns.
    The molar mass of xenon is 131.3 g, so we obtain
    n = 125 g 131.3 g/mol = 0.952 mol,

    Δ T = 2 Q 3 n R = 2 ( 180 J ) 3 ( 0.952 mol ) ( 8.31 J/mol · ° C ) = 15.2 ° C .

    Therefore, the final temperature is 35.2 °C . The problem could equally well be solved in kelvin; as a kelvin is the same size as a degree Celsius of temperature change, you would get Δ T = 15.2 K .


The heating of an ideal or almost ideal gas at constant volume is important in car engines and many other practical systems.

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Questions & Answers

what is flux
Bundi Reply
Total number of field lines crossing the surface area
Basically flux in general is amount of anything...In Electricity and Magnetism it is the total no..of electric field lines or Magnetic field lines passing normally through the suface
what is temperature change
a bottle of soft drink was removed from refrigerator and after some time, it was observed that its temperature has increased by 15 degree Celsius, what is the temperature change in degree Fahrenheit and degree Celsius
process whereby the degree of hotness of a body (or medium) changes
where The letter "Q" is the heat transferred in an exchange in calories, "m" is the mass of the substance being heated in grams, "c" is its specific heat capacity and the static value, and "ΔT" is its change in temperature in degrees Celsius to reflect the change in temperature.
what was the temperature of the soft drink when it was removed ?
15 degree Celsius
15 degree
ok I think is just conversion
15 degree Celsius to Fahrenheit
0 degree Celsius = 32 Fahrenheit
15 degree Celsius = (15×1.8)+32 =59 Fahrenheit
I dont understand
the question said you should convert 15 degree Celsius to Fahrenheit
To convert temperatures in degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit, multiply by 1.8 (or 9/5) and add 32.
what is d final ans for Fahrenheit and Celsius
it said what is temperature change in Fahrenheit and Celsius
the 15 is already in Celsius
So the final answer for Fahrenheit is 59
what is d final ans for Fahrenheit and Celsius
what are the effects of placing a dielectric between the plates of a capacitor
Bundi Reply
increase the capacitance.
besides increasing the capacitance, is there any?
mechanical stiffness and small size
why for an ideal gas internal energy is directly proportional to thermodynamics temperature?
Anne Reply
two charged particles are 8.45cm apart. They are moved and the force on each of them is found to have tripled. How far are they now?
Martin Reply
what is flux
determining dimensional correctness
determine dimensional correctness of,T=2π√L/g
somebody help me answer the question above
calculate the heat flow per square meter through a mineral roll insulation 5cm thick if the temperature on the two surfaces are 30degree Celsius and 20 degree Celsius respectively. thermal conduction of mineral roll is 0.04
akuribire Reply
what are the elementary compositions of a cell?
jackson Reply
poles, chemical
when a current pass through a material does the velocity varies
lovet Reply
what is spin entropy ?and disorder in ferromagnetic material
Nepal Reply
diagram of an hall effect sensor
Aweda Reply
if a magnetised wire having dipole moment M is bent in the form of arc subtending angle of 45°at centre,new magnetic moment is
Pravin Reply
tell the answer
is this book for preparing IIT or neet?
jyotirmayee Reply
is it possible to increase the temperature of a gas without adding heat to it?
gurpreet Reply
I'm not sure about it, but I think it's possible. If you add some form of energy to the system, it's a possibility. Also, if you change the pression or the volume of the system, you'll increase the kinetic energy of the system, increasing the gas temperature. I don't know if I'm correct.
For example, if you get a syringe and close the tip(sealing the air inside), and start pumping the plunger, you'll notice that it starts getting hot. Again, I'm not sure if I am correct.
you are right for example an adiabatic process changes all variables without external energy to yield a temperature change. (Search Otto cycle)
when a current pass through a material does the velocity varies
yes at adiabatic compression temperature increase
how to draw a diagram of a triode
Ssempala Reply
whate is fckg diagrame?
why do we use integration?
Monalisa Reply
To know surfaces below graphs.
To find a Primitive function. Primitive function: a function that is the origin of another
what is laps rate
Г=-dT/dZ that is simply defination
what is z
to find the area under a graph or to accumulate .e.g. sum of momentum over time is no etic energy.
Z is alt.,dZ altv difference
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 2. OpenStax CNX. Oct 06, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12074/1.3
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