Molar Enthalpy of Water Under Standard Conditions
Location: Outside U.S.
Date: April 6, 2011
How can the molar enthalpy of gaseous water be given at standard conditions if water is a liquid at standard conditions?
Standard conditions are just a pre-agreed set of environmental conditions that we use as reference. Since enthalpy (like internal energy) is not something that we can measure - we can only measure the difference or the change in enthalpy (delta-H), then we have agreed that - for example: the enthalpy of formation of elements in their standard state is zero. This does not mean that there really is no energy needed or produced to make elemental O2, it is just a baseline agreement (like the way we say that a mole of C-12 is 12g, or that the half-cell standard reduction potential of hydrogen is 0 volts).
Greg (Roberto Gregorius)
The "standard state" of a substance is usually defined as the most stable
form of the substance at 1 atm pressure and a stated temperature. This is
usually "298.15" Kelvins, or less commonly "0" Kelvins. That is the good
However, there are circumstances where it is convenient to bend the
definition a bit for computational purposes, and some other form of the
molecule is selected. Such an example is atomic oxygen "O". This does not
exist at room temperature, but it can be observed at high temperatures, say
2000 Kelvins. It is possible (without getting into the computational
details) to extrapolate the high temperature data down to 298.15 or "O"
Kelvins, and set its value. That is the value of the thermodynamic property
at the stated temperature, "if "O" could exist at that temperature, based on
the experimental data measured at high temperatures. Your observation is
When doing thermochemical computations it is important to know what the
numbers are being referred to. The motive is to be able to compute
thermodynamic properties in conditions that are not easily accessible from
conditions that are more readily accessible.
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Update: June 2012