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Episode 604: Preparation for thermodynamics topic
This topic can follow on from a study of the kinetic theory of gases. It is a good opportunity for students to think about the same phenomena in macroscopic terms (energy supplied to materials) and microscopic terms (how the particles are behaving).

Internal combustion engine

Advance warning
There is great variation between exam specifications in this area, so you are advised to check carefully which aspects you need to cover.

Main aims
Students will:

  • Be able to recall the First Law of Thermodynamics and understand how it relates to the conservation of energy
  • Calculate the efficiency of energy transfer and the maximum thermal efficiency
  • Perform calculations using specific heat capacity and latent heat


Prior knowledge
If students have already studied the kinetic theory of gases, they should understand that heat energy is both kinetic and potential energy in a gas. They should be able to relate the temperature to the mean kinetic energy per molecule and recall that the energy is distributed randomly amongst molecules in a well understood way.

Where this leads
This topic merely scratches the surface of the subject of thermodynamics. Those students who go on to study Physics, Chemistry or Engineering will learn a lot more about this subject.

Download Word version of Episode 604 (39 KB)


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