The enthalpy (H\displaystyle H) of a system is an important quantity studied by chemists. It is defined as the total heat content of a system. It is different from heat because it is a property of a system, while heat is a transport phenomenon (a system does not possess heat, but heat may transfer to or from it).

We don’t use enthalpy in our calculations, but we do use enthalpy change:

ΔH=nΔHx\displaystyle \Delta{} H = n \Delta{} H_{x}.

enthalpy change (ΔH\displaystyle \Delta{} H)
the energy absorbed from or released to the surroundings when a system’s reactants react to form products, measured in kilojoules (kJ)
moles (n\displaystyle n)
the molar amount of the substance in question (the system)
molar enthalpy (ΔHx\displaystyle \Delta{} H_{x})
the enthalpy change associated with one mole of the substance, measured in kilojoules per mole (kJ/mol); the subscript is a letter or combination of letters that indicate the type of change that is occurring (ex: ΔHsol\displaystyle \Delta{} H_{\text{sol}}, ΔHvap\displaystyle \Delta{} H_{\text{vap}}, ΔHfr\displaystyle \Delta{} H_{\text{fr}}); see pages 307 and 799–800 of the textbook for molar enthalpy values of various substances

As already mentioned, heat always has a positive value. Enthalpy change (and molar enthalpy) is negative for exothermic reactions and positive for endothermic reactions.


What amount of ethylene glycol (in moles) would vaporize while absorbing 200.0 kJ of heat? (ΔHvap=58.8kJ\displaystyle \Delta{} H_{\text{vap}} = 58.8 \, \text{kJ}.)

We can rearrange ΔH=nΔHvap\displaystyle \Delta{} H = n \Delta{} H_{\text{vap}} and substitute:

n=ΔHΔHvap=200.0kJ58.8kJ/mol=3.40mol\displaystyle n = \frac{\Delta{} H}{\Delta{} H_{\text{vap}}} = \frac{200.0 \, \text{kJ}}{58.8 \, \text{kJ/mol}} = 3.40 \, \text{mol}.