Given below are observations on molar specific heats at room temperature of some common gases.
Molar specific heat (Cv)
(cal mol–1 K–1)
The measured molar specific heats of these gases are markedly different from those for monatomic gases. Typically, molar specific heat of a monatomic gas is 2.92 cal/mol K. Explain this difference. What can you infer from the somewhat larger (than the rest) value for chlorine?
The gases listed in the given table are diatomic. Besides the translational degree of freedom, they have other degrees of freedom (modes of motion).
Heat must be supplied to increase the temperature of these gases. This increases the average energy of all the modes of motion. Hence, the molar specific heat of diatomic gases is more than that of monatomic gases.
If only rotational mode of motion is considered, then the molar specific heat of a diatomic gas = `5/2 R`
= 5/2 xx 1.98 =4.95 `"cal mol"^(-1) K^(-1)`
With the exception of chlorine, all the observations in the given table agree with (`5/2R`). This is because at room temperature, chlorine also has vibrational modes of motion besides rotational and translational modes of motion.
The gases which are listed in the above table are diatomic gases and not mono atomic gases. For diatomic gases, molar specific heat =5/2 R = 5/2 x 1.98 = 4.95, which agrees fairly well with all observations listed in the table except for chlorine. A mono atomic gas molecule has only the translational motion. A diatomic gas molecule, apart from translational motion, the vibrational as well as rotational motion is also possible. Therefore, to raise the temperature of 1 mole of a diatomic gas through 1°C, heat is to be supplied to increase not only translational energy but also rotational and vibrational energies. Hence, molar specific heat of a diatomic gas is greater than that for mono atomic gas. The higher value of molar specific heat of chlorine as compared to hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen etc. shows that for chlorine molecule, at room temperature vibrational motion also occurs along with translational and rotational motions, whereas other diatomic molecules at room temperature usually have rotational motion apart from their translational motion. This is the reason that chlorine has somewhat larger value of molar specific heat.