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Volume vs. Specific Volume: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 3, 2024
Volume is the amount of space occupied by an object, while specific volume is the volume per unit mass of a substance.

Key Differences

Volume and specific volume are both important concepts in physics and engineering, but they have distinct meanings and applications. Volume is a measure of the amount of space occupied by an object or substance. It is a three-dimensional quantity and can be expressed in cubic units such as cubic meters (m³), cubic centimeters (cm³), or liters (L). Specific volume, on the other hand, is a property of materials that describes the volume occupied by a unit mass of a substance. It is the reciprocal of density and is expressed in units such as cubic meters per kilogram (m³/kg) or liters per kilogram (L/kg).
Volume is a general concept that applies to any three-dimensional space, specific volume is specific to the context of materials and their properties. Volume is a straightforward measurement of space, whereas specific volume provides insight into the intrinsic properties of a substance, such as how much space a certain amount of mass occupies.
In practical applications, volume is often used to determine the capacity of containers, the size of objects, or the amount of space occupied by a substance. Specific volume, however, is used in calculations involving the behavior of substances under different pressures and temperatures, such as in the design of engines, refrigeration systems, and other thermodynamic processes.
Volume is a measure of the space occupied by an object or substance, while specific volume is a material property that indicates the volume occupied by a unit mass of a substance. Understanding the difference between these two concepts is essential in fields such as physics, engineering, and materials science.

Comparison Chart


The amount of space occupied by an object or substance
The volume occupied by a unit mass of a substance


Cubic meters (m³), liters (L), cubic centimeters (cm³)
Cubic meters per kilogram (m³/kg), liters per kilogram (L/kg)


General measurement of space
Material property related to density


Determining capacity, size, or amount of space
Analyzing behavior of substances under different conditions

Relation to Mass

Independent of mass
Inversely related to density

Volume and Specific Volume Definitions


The amount of three-dimensional space occupied by an object.
The volume of the water in the tank is 200 liters.

Specific Volume

The volume occupied by a unit mass of a substance.
The specific volume of air at standard conditions is about 0.8 m³/kg.


The quantity of space enclosed within a shape.
The volume of the cube is calculated as the side length cubed.

Specific Volume

A measure used in fluid mechanics to analyze flow properties.
The specific volume of a gas changes with pressure and temperature.


A measure of the capacity of a container.
The bottle has a volume of 1 liter.

Specific Volume

The reciprocal of density.
The specific volume of a material can be calculated by dividing 1 by its density.


The space that a substance or object occupies.
The volume of gas in the balloon expanded as it heated up.

Specific Volume

An important parameter in the design of thermodynamic systems.
The specific volume of refrigerant is crucial in the design of refrigeration cycles.


The magnitude of sound or the loudness of audio.
Please turn down the volume; it's too loud.

Specific Volume

A property used to describe the behavior of substances in thermodynamics.
The specific volume of steam is higher than that of water.


A collection of written or printed sheets bound together; a book.


One of the books of a work printed and bound in more than one book.


What is the formula for the volume of a cube?

The volume of a cube is calculated as side length cubed (s³).

Is volume a scalar or vector quantity?

Volume is a scalar quantity because it has magnitude but no direction.

How is volume measured?

Volume is typically measured in cubic units such as cubic meters (m³), cubic centimeters (cm³), liters (L), and gallons (gal).

How do you find the volume of a cylinder?

The volume of a cylinder is found by πr²h, where r is the radius and h is the height.

How is volume used in daily life?

Volume measurements are crucial in cooking, manufacturing, and in determining the capacity of containers like fuel tanks and water reservoirs.

How is specific volume expressed?

Specific volume is typically expressed in cubic meters per kilogram (m³/kg) in the SI system.

What is volume?

Volume is the amount of space that a substance or object occupies or that is enclosed within a container.

What instruments can measure volume?

Instruments like measuring cups, graduated cylinders, and volumetric flasks can measure volume.

Can volume apply to both solids and liquids?

Yes, volume can refer to the space occupied by solids, liquids, and gases.

Does volume have a standard unit?

In the International System of Units (SI), the standard unit of volume is the cubic meter (m³).

Where is specific volume used?

Specific volume is widely used in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics to analyze the properties of gases and liquids.

What is the significance of specific volume in thermodynamics?

Specific volume is important for understanding the state and behavior of substances under different thermal conditions in thermodynamic processes.

Can volume change with temperature?

Yes, the volume of substances can expand or contract with temperature changes, particularly noticeable in gases and liquids.

How does specific volume relate to gas laws?

Specific volume directly relates to gas laws, which describe how temperature, pressure, and volume affect a gas's state.

What is specific volume?

Specific volume is a property of materials, defined as the volume occupied by a unit mass of a substance.

Is specific volume the same as volume?

No, specific volume is a material property that indicates the volume per unit mass, whereas volume is a general measure of space.

How do you calculate specific volume?

Specific volume is calculated as the inverse of density, i.e., specific volume = 1/density.

Is specific volume important in engineering?

Yes, it is crucial in mechanical and chemical engineering for designing systems and understanding material behavior under various conditions.

Can specific volume vary with temperature and pressure?

Yes, specific volume can change with temperature and pressure, especially for gases following the ideal gas law.

Can specific volume be applied to solids and liquids?

While more commonly used for gases, specific volume can also apply to solids and liquids, offering insights into their compressibility and expansivity.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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