Volume vs Capacity
Volume and capacity are commonly interchanged in both meaning and use because of the correlation that exists between them, but there is a definite difference between volume and capacity. Whenever volume or capacity comes to mind, it is accepted that it involves an object and the substance that it contains. Since these two elements are essential to both volume and capacity, it is easy to assume that they are one and the same. However, this is not so. Here, we will discuss the reason for this argument.
What is Volume?
Regardless of the state of matter involved (solid, liquid or gas), and whether or not there is actually an object within the container, volume only refers to the three-dimensional space an object occupies by itself. In other words, volume signifies the three-dimensional size of the object. It is determined as the product of the cross sectional area and height of an object. Volume is commonly measured in terms of cubic meters or cubic centimeters. At times, the volume of a certain container is also viewed as its capacity, as well. In the following figure, the volume of the cylinder is equal to the product of cross sectional area A and height h; i.e V=A×h.
What is Capacity?
Capacity, on the other hand, refers to the potential amount of substance that a container is able to hold or absorb. It may have similarities in idea with volume, but it is still distinguishable. Capacity concentrates more on how much a solid, liquid or gas can fit in a container and often implies the maximum amount that one can bear. Capacity is measured in terms of liters, milliliters, pound, gallons, and the like. For example, in the figure shown below, the capacity of the measuring cup is 250 ml.
What is the difference between Volume and Capacity?
It is a given fact that volume and capacity are two terms that are discussed in similar contexts. However, although they may be at times considered as quite similar to one another, there exists certain differences between them that set them apart.
- Volume is the actual amount of whatever substance that is contained within a certain space. Capacity is the total potential amount that a certain enclosed space is capable of holding.
- Volume is measured with cubic meters and cubic centimeters, Capacity is measured with liters, gallons, etc.
Ex- The milk container has a capacity of 250ml, while that container may have a volume of 300 cubic centimeters. Here, it is clear that the container has the potential to accommodate 250ml of milk while the container itself occupies 300 cubic centimeters of space.
There is also another simple comparison between volume and capacity. With “capacity”, one often says “The water gallon can hold up to 6 liters of water; while “volume” is often referred to as “The plastic container expanded to double its volume after performing an experiment on it.”
In brief: Capacity vs Volume
• Volume is the three-dimensional space that a certain object takes up while capacity refers to how much a container or object can hold or accommodate.
• Volume is measured mostly using cubic centimeter or cubic meters and can be determined by multiplying the object’s length, width and height; while capacity is measured by the liters, gallons, milliliters, etcetera depending on how much the container can accommodate.