Do all non-conductors of heat have a specific heat of zero?

For example, what would be the specific heat for polystyrene, used for making cups and plates, be?

1 Answer
Apr 22, 2016

Rather than having a low specific heat capacity, non-conductors have a high specific heat capacity.

The formula for heat transfer is

#color(blue)(|bar(ul(color(white)(a/a)q = mcΔT color(white)(a/a)|)))" "#

where c, the specific heat capacity, is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of sample by 1 °C.

If you think about it, a non-conductor would require a large amount of heat to raise its temperature by 1 °C — it would have a high specific heat capacity.

Metals, of course, are good conductors of heat; many solids are "non-conductors", and gases are the poorest conductors.

There is probably no such thing as a perfect non-conductor.

Here is a short table of the specific heat capacities of some common substances at room temperature.

#bb"Substance" color(white)(mm)c//"J°C"^"-1""kg"^"-1"#
#stackrel(——————————)("Brass"color(white)(mmmmmmll) 375#
#"Polystyrene"color(white)(mmll) "1 400"#
#"Plexiglas"^®color(white)(mmm) "1 500"#
#"Polypropylene"color(white)(ml) "1 920"#
#"Bakelite" color(white)(mmmml) "4 000"#
#"Hydrogen" color(white)(mmm)"14 304"#

Notice that polystyrene is a better conductor than other common polymers.