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Can heat be considered a form of stored (or potential) energy? Would such an interpretation contradict the concept of heat as energy in the process of transfer because of a temperature difference?

Can heat be considered a form of stored (or potential) energy? Would such an interpretation contradict the concept of heat as energy in the process of transfer because of a temperature difference?

Grade:11

2 Answers

Aditi Chauhan
askIITians Faculty 396 Points
6 years ago
No, heat cannot be considered a form of stored (or potential) energy.
Yes, such an interpretation would contradict the concept of heat as energy in the process of transfer because of a temperature difference.
Heat is the agent which produces in us the sensation of warmth and makes bodies hot. It is a form of energy. It flows from higher to lower temperature. In any exchange of heat, heat lost by the body is equal to the heat gained by the cold body.
In accordance to modern dynamical theory of heat, the molecules of a body are in perpetual motion. The kinetic energy possessed by the molecules depends on the temperature. When the temperature of a body is raised, the kinetic energy and hence the velocity of molecules increases. In solids, the molecules are bound by the strong attractive forces between the molecules and thus they cannot leave their mean position. They simply vibrate about their mean positions. So, molecules possess vibrational kinetic energy.
In liquids, the molecules can move freely with in the body of the liquid and are held by weak forces of attraction between the molecules. So, molecules possess translational kinetic energy.
The molecules of diatomic inert gases like oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, etc., consist of more than one atom. When heat energy is given to these gases, it does not increase only the translational kinetic energy of molecules but a part of the energy is also used by the molecules to speed of their rotational motion about the center of mass of the molecules. Thus, in the case of gases having diatomic or polyatomic molecules, the heat energy given to the gas is converted into three forms and these are translational kinetic energy, rotational kinetic energy and vibrational kinetic energy.
In accordance to dynamical theory of heat the sum total of translational, vibrational and rotational energies of the molecules of a system is called the thermal energy of the system. The part of thermal energy which flows from one body to the other due to temperature difference is called heat. That is why; heat cannot be considered a form of stored (or potential) energy.
AK GAMING
22 Points
2 months ago
Yes. We can deal this case considering an example of melting of ice. During melting of ice, its temperature remains constant and hence its kinetic energy remains constant. The amount of heat energy absorbed by ice is used in separating the molecules apart and it is stored in the form of potential energy. Thus heat is stored in the form of potential energy and hence can be considered as a form of potential energy.

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