Energy & Technology

What is the difference between thermal energy and heat?

thermal energy and heat energy

In this article, we will examine the definitions of both thermal energy and heat, and then we shall be looking into the similarities and differences between thermal energy and heat – that is, if there are any. Let us find out!

What is Thermal Energy?

Thermal Energy is the energy of a temperature. In other words, it refers to the energy of the hotness of an object or substance.

 It can also be defined as the amount of energy that is associated with the temperature of a substance. 

It is the random motions of atoms in a substance which cause the heat flow to occur. The energy associated with this heat flow is known as thermal energy.

thermal energy and heat energy
thermal energy and heat energy

What then is Heat?

Heat is the transfer of energy between a system and its surroundings through certain processes or transfer methods. 

It is a measure of how hot or cold a substance is. The temperature of an object is always measured using a thermometer which measures heat energy.

Hold on, do you know of geothermal energy? Click here to find out how it relates to thermal energy.

Let us now look at the similarities and then differences between Thermal Energy and Heat Energy.

What are the similarities between Thermal Energy and Heat?

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Basically, they are two different things. However, sometimes these two terms are used as if they were the same thing. This can lead to some confusion! So what’s the deal here? Let’s take a closer look.
Firstly, it should be noted that although they are different concepts, they do have some similarities.
For example, they both involve the transfer of energy from one system to another. They both occur naturally, and they both take place without the application of external forces. 
They are also both quantifiable. But other than that, their similarities and differences are manifold. Let’s take a look at each of them individually…

What are The Differences Between Thermal Energy and Heat?

thermal energy and heat energy
thermal energy and heat energy
Thermal EnergyHeat
Thermal Energy” is a property of a particular object/substance due to its thermal properties Heat Energy is the measurement of the transferring of energy from one body to another by heating or cooling the body; this change in the temperature is measured by using a thermometer.
Thermal Energy – a type of potential energy which exists due to the ability of matter to undergo molecular motionThe heat energy of an object is determined by its temperature and is measured in Joules.
Mathematically, the thermal energy of a system is: K = T x A x σ x V x E where K is the specific heat capacity (J/kg K); T is the absolute temperature (Kelvins); A is the surface area of the object (m2); σ is the mass density (kg/m3); V is the volume of the object (m3); and E is the total energy contained in the system (J)Mathematically, Heat Energy is : Q = ΔE / Δt where Q is the amount of heat energy transferred in J/s; ΔE is the change in internal energy (J); Δt is the time elapsed (s).
showing the differences between thermal energy and heat energy

I hope this article has been able to answer your question to some extent? Please leave your comments and questions down below.

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