<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
E int = i ( K i + U i ) ,

where the summation is over all the molecules of the system, and the bars over K and U indicate average values. The kinetic energy K i of an individual molecule includes contributions due to its rotation and vibration, as well as its translational energy m i v i 2 / 2 , where v i is the molecule’s speed measured relative to the center of mass of the system. The potential energy U i is associated only with the interactions between molecule i and the other molecules of the system. In fact, neither the system’s location nor its motion is of any consequence as far as the internal energy is concerned. The internal energy of the system is not affected by moving it from the basement to the roof of a 100-story building or by placing it on a moving train.

In an ideal monatomic gas, each molecule is a single atom. Consequently, there is no rotational or vibrational kinetic energy and K i = m i v i 2 / 2 . Furthermore, there are no interatomic interactions (collisions notwithstanding), so U i = constant , which we set to zero. The internal energy is therefore due to translational kinetic energy only and

E int = i K i = i 1 2 m i v i 2 ¯ .

From the discussion in the preceding chapter, we know that the average kinetic energy of a molecule in an ideal monatomic gas is

1 2 m i v i 2 = 3 2 k B T ,

where T is the Kelvin temperature of the gas. Consequently, the average mechanical energy per molecule of an ideal monatomic gas is also 3 k B T / 2 , that is,

K i + U i ¯ = K i = 3 2 k B T .

The internal energy is just the number of molecules multiplied by the average mechanical energy per molecule. Thus for n moles of an ideal monatomic gas,

E int = n N A ( 3 2 k B T ) = 3 2 n R T .

Notice that the internal energy of a given quantity of an ideal monatomic gas depends on just the temperature and is completely independent of the pressure and volume of the gas. For other systems, the internal energy cannot be expressed so simply. However, an increase in internal energy can often be associated with an increase in temperature.

We know from the zeroth law of thermodynamics that when two systems are placed in thermal contact, they eventually reach thermal equilibrium, at which point they are at the same temperature. As an example, suppose we mix two monatomic ideal gases. Now, the energy per molecule of an ideal monatomic gas is proportional to its temperature. Thus, when the two gases are mixed, the molecules of the hotter gas must lose energy and the molecules of the colder gas must gain energy. This continues until thermal equilibrium is reached, at which point, the temperature, and therefore the average translational kinetic energy per molecule, is the same for both gases. The approach to equilibrium for real systems is somewhat more complicated than for an ideal monatomic gas. Nevertheless, we can still say that energy is exchanged between the systems until their temperatures are the same.


  • Positive (negative) work is done by a thermodynamic system when it expands (contracts) under an external pressure.
  • Heat is the energy transferred between two objects (or two parts of a system) because of a temperature difference.
  • Internal energy of a thermodynamic system is its total mechanical energy.

Questions & Answers

Using Kirchhoff's rules, when choosing your loops, can you choose a loop that doesn't have a voltage?
Michael Reply
how was the check your understand 12.7 solved?
Bysteria Reply
LOAK Reply
he's the father of 3 newton law
he is Chris Issaac's father :)
how to name covalent bond
Bryan Reply
what do you understand by the drift voltage
Brunelle Reply
what do you understand by drift velocity
well when you apply a small electric field to a conductor that causes to add a little velocity to charged particle than usual, which become their average speed, that is what we call a drift.
drift velocity
what is an electromotive force?
Danilo Reply
It is the amount of other forms of energy converted into electrical energy per unit charge that flow through it.
How electromotive force is differentiated from the terminal voltage?
in the emf power is generated while in the terminal pd power is lost.
what is then chemical name of NaCl
Sagar Reply
sodium chloride
sodium chloride
How can we differentiate between static point and test charge?
Comfort Reply
Wat is coplanar in physics
Humble Reply
two point charges +30c and +10c are separated by a distance of 80cm,compute the electric intensity and force on a +5×10^-6c charge place midway between the charges
Tijani Reply
what is the difference between temperature and heat
Ishom Reply
Heat is the condition or quality of being hot While Temperature is ameasure of cold or heat, often measurable with a thermometer
Temperature is the one of heat indicators of materials that can be measured with thermometers, and Heat is the quantity of calor content in material that can be measured with calorimetry.
the average kinetic energy of molecules is called temperature. heat is the method or mode to transfer energy to molecules of an object but randomly, while work is the method to transfer energy to molecules in such manner that every molecules get moved in one direction.
2. A brass rod of length 50cm and diameter 3mm is joined to a steel rod of the same length and diameter. What is the change in length of the combined rod at 250°c( degree Celsius) if the original length are 40°c(degree Celsius) is there at thermal stress developed at the junction? The end of the rod are free to expand (coefficient of linear expansion of brass = 2.0×10^-5, steel=1.2×10^-5k^1)
A charge insulator can be discharged by passing it just above a flame. Explain.
Mudassar Reply
of the three vectors in the equation F=qv×b which pairs are always at right angles?
what is an ideal gas?
Justine Reply
What is meant by zero Kelvin ?
Why does water cool when put in the pot ?
when we pour the water in a vessel(pot) the hot body(water) loses its heat to the surrounding in order to maintain thermal equilibrium.Thus,water cools.
when we drop water in the pot, the pot body loses heat to surrounded in order to maintain thermal equilibrium thus,water cool.
my personal opinion ideal gas means doesn't exist any gas that obey all rules that is made for gases, like when get the temp of a gas lower, it's volume decreases.since the gas will convert to liquid when the temp get lowest.. so you can imagine it, but you can't get a gas at the lowest T
Edit An ideal gas is a theoretically gascomposed of many randomly moving point particles whose only interactions are perfectly elastic collisions.
ideal gases are real gases at low temperature
Practice Key Terms 2

Get the best University physics vol... course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 2. OpenStax CNX. Oct 06, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12074/1.3
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'University physics volume 2' conversation and receive update notifications?