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Work, Energy and Power

Work is done when a force move it point of application along the direction of its
line action.

The work W done by the force on the body is defined as the product of a force
and displacement in the direction of the force.
W = F  d.
The SI unit of Work is the JOULE (J) and 1 J = 1 Nm

The Joule in defined as the amount of work done when a force of one Newton
displaces an object by one meter.

If the force does not act in the direction in which there is motion then the force
will have to be resolved into components. As shown the diagram below, the
component of the force which acts in the direction of motion is F cos θ, in which
case the work done W is given as

So the work done in this case is

W = (F cos θ)  d

When θ = 0 cos θ = 1 (the force acts parallel to the direction of motion)

And then
W = F  d. The maximum work is done
When θ = 90 cos θ = 0
W=0 The displacement here is zero
When θ = 180 cos θ = 
W =  F  d. Work done against the
Question 1
A 50-kg crate is pulled 40 m along a horizontal floor by a constant force
exerted by a person, Fp = 100 N, which acts at a 37° angle as shown in Figure.
The floor is rough and exerts a friction force Ffr = 50 N. Determine the work
done by each force acting on the crate, and the net work done on the crate.

WW = 0 (Work done by weight, displacement = 0)

WN = 0 (Work done by normal, displacement = 0)
The work done by FP is
WP = (FP cos ) x d = (100 N) cos 37 x (40 m) = 3200 J.
The work done by the friction force is
W fr = (F fr cos 180°) x d = (50 N) (-1) x (40 m) = 2000 J.
The angle between the displacement x and F fr is 180 because they point in
opposite directions. Since cos 180 = - 1, we see that the force of friction does
negative work on the crate.
Finally, the net work can be calculated in two equivalent ways.
(1) The net work done on an object is the algebraic sum of the work done by
each force, since work is a scalar:
Wnet = Wg + WN + WP + Wfr = 0 + 0 + 3200 J - 2000 J = 1200 J
(2) The net work can also be calculated by first determining the net force on
the object and then taking its component along the displacement:
(Fnet)x = FP cos  - F fr.
Then the net work is Wnet = (Fnet)X x d = (FP cos  - F fr)  d
= (100 N cos 37°  50 N)  (40 m)
= 1200 J as before.
Work Done by a Varying Force
If the force acting on an object is constant, the work done by that force can be calculated
using W = F  d.
But in many cases, the force varies in magnitude or direction during a process. For
 as a rocket moves away from Earth, work is done to overcome the force of gravity,
which varies as the inverse square of the distance from the Earth's centre.
 Other examples are the force exerted by a spring, which increases with the
amount of stretch,
 or the work done by a varying force in pulling a box or cart up an uneven hill.

The work done by a varying force can be determined graphically. By finding the area
under a force displacement curve. We divide the distance into small segments d. For each
segment, we indicate the average of F, by a horizontal dashed line. Then the work done for
each segment is W = Fd, which is the area of a rectangle (d) wide and (F), high.
The total work done to move the object a total distance d = dB – dA is the sum of the
areas of the rectangles (five in the case shown in above)

Energy is that which enables a body to do work.

There are two types of mechanical energy namely: Kinetic energy and Potential

Kinetic energy is the energy a body has by virtue of its motion.

In order to obtain a quantitative definition for kinetic energy, let us consider an

object of mass m that is moving in a straight line with an initial speed u. To
accelerate it uniformly to a speed v, a constant net force Fnet is exerted on it
parallel to its motion over a distance d.
Then the net work done on the object is
Wnet = Fnet  S.
We apply Newton's second law,
Fnet =ma,
and use
v 2  u 2  2aS
With v1 as the initial speed and v2 the final speed. We solve for a,
v2  u 2
Then substitute this into Fnet = ma, and determine the work done:
 v2  u 2 
Wnet  Fnet S  maS  m  S
 2S 
Wnet  12 mv 2  12 mu 2
We define the quantity ½ mv 2 to be the translational kinetic energy (KE) of the
EK=½ mv 2

So Wnet  E K 2  E K1
Wnet  E K
The net work done on an object is equal to the change in its kinetic energy.
This is known as the work-energy principle.
Potential energy is defined as the energy a body has by reason of its position in a field of
force or by state. There are serious types of potential energy and each day is associated
with a particular force. The three types of potential energies that we will deal with in this
course are:
 Gravitational potential energy
 Elastic potential energy
 Electric potential energy

Gravitational Potential Energy

 The potential energy of a body can be defined as the amount of work that was done on it
to give it that energy

 The gravitational potential energy (EP) is the energy that the object mass m has by virtue
of its position relative to the surface of the earth. That position is measured by the height
h of the object relative to an arbitrary zero:
SI unit of gravitational potential energy: joule (J)

Consider a body of mass m at height h above ground the G.P.E = EP is equal to work done
against the downward pull of gravity.
W = Fs
= mgh
EP = mgh

Elastic Potential Energy (E.P.E)

Elastic potential energy is the energy a body possesses by
reason of its state.
For example: A spring can store energy when in a state of
Tension or Compression.
Hooke’s law states that the extension of a spring is directly
proportional to the force applied provided that the elastic limit
is not exceeded.
FP  x
FP  kx
Where k is the spring constant
As shown by the graph the energy stored in the spring is equal
to work done in stretching the spring, which is also the area
under the graph.
W = Average Force  displacement
W = ½ [0 + FP]  x  [½ FP]  x = [½ k x]  x = ½ k x2
So for figure 6-15 the elastic potential energy stored
E.P.E = ½ k (xf)2 which is the area under the graph
A force is Conservative when the work it does on a moving object is independent of the
path between the object's initial and final positions.

A force is Nonconservative when the work it does on a moving object is dependent of the
path between the object's initial and final positions.

Conservative and Nonconservative Forces

Conservative Forces Nonconservative Forces

Gravitational Friction (static and kinetic)

Elastic Air resistance
Electric Tension in cord
Motor or rocket propulsion
Push or pull by person

A crate is pulled across the floor from position 1

Each rider's initial potential energy to position 2 via two paths.
mgh gets transformed to kinetic  One straight and
energy, so the speed v at the bottom  One curved.
is obtained from ½ mv2 = mgh. The The friction force is always in the direction exactly
mass cancels in this equation and so opposed to the direction of motion. Hence, for a
the speed will be the same, regardless constant magnitude friction force,
of the mass of the rider. Since they Wfr = Ffr  d,
descend the same vertical height, they so if d is greater (as for the curved path), then W is
will finish with the same speed. greater.
In the real world situations, conservative and nonconservative forces act simultaneously on
an object. So we can now extend the work-energy theorem to include potential energy.

We write the total (net) work W net as a sum of the work done by conservative forces, W C,
and the work done by nonconservative forces, W NC:
Wnet = W C + W NC.
Then, from the work-energy principle, we have
Wnet = EK
WC + W NC =EK
Where EK = EK 2 - EK 1, and so
WNC = EK - W C.
Work done by a conservative force can be written in terms of gravitational potential
WC =  EP.
We substitute this into the last equation above:
WNC = EK + EP.
Thus, the net work W NC done by ALL the nonconservative forces acting on an object is equal
to the total change in kinetic and potential energy.
It must be emphasized that all the forces acting on a body must be included in
Equation, either in the potential energy term on the right (if it is a conservative force), or
in the work term, WNC, on the left (but not in both!).


The principle of the conservation of mechanical energy states that:
The total mechanical energy (E = EK + EP) of an object remains constant as the object
moves provided that the net work done by external nonconservative forces is zero,
WNC = 0 J.
0 = EK + EP.
0 = (EK 2  EK 1) + (EP 2 – EP 1)
EK 1 + EP 1 = EK 2 + EP 2
E1 = E2
E1 the total energy before = E2 the total energy after
Consider an object of mass m falling from a point B at a height h to another
point A at a height of x above the ground
The Gravitational Potential energy (Ep) at A = mgx

The kinetic energy (EK) at A is = ½ mv2

The velocity at can be obtained since v2 = u2 + 2as
u = 0 m/s, a=g m/s2 and s = h-x
v2 = 2g(h-x)

EK = ½ m.2g (h-x)
EK = mg (h – x)

So the sum Ep + Ek = mgx + mg (h-x) = mgh

Thus at any point such as A, the total mechanical energy of the falling object
is equal to the original energy at B. The mechanical energy is hence constant
or conserved. This is the case for a conservative field.
Other Forms of Energy;

Energy Transformations and the Law of Conservation of Energy

Besides the kinetic energy and potential energy of ordinary objects, other forms of energy
can be defined as well. These include electric energy, nuclear energy, thermal energy, and
the chemical energy stored in food and fuels. With the advent of the atomic theory, these
other forms of energy have come to be considered as kinetic or potential energy at the
atomic or molecular level. For example, according to the atomic theory, thermal energy is
interpreted as the kinetic energy of rapidly moving molecules when an object is heated,
the molecules that make up the object move faster. On the other hand, the energy stored in
food and fuel such as gasoline can be regarded as potential energy stored by virtue of the
relative positions of the atoms within a molecule due to electric forces between the atoms
(referred to as chemical bonds). For the energy in chemical bonds to be used to do work, it
must be released, usually through chemical reactions. This is analogous to a compressed
spring which, when released, can do work. Enzymes in our bodies allow the release of
energy stored in food molecules. The violent spark of a spark plug in an automobile allows
the mixture of gas and air to react chemically, releasing the stored energy which can then do
work against the piston to propel the car forward. Electric, magnetic, and nuclear energy also
can be considered examples of kinetic and potential (or stored) energy.

Principles of Conservation of Energy

 Energy cannot be created or destroyed but be transform from one form to
another or the total energy in a closed system is a constant

 The total energy in a closed system is always constant.

If an electric motor is supplied with 1000 J of energy, for example, 850J of mechanical
energy, 140J of heat energy and 10 J of sound energy may be produced.

The Principle of the Conservation of Energy and is one of the key principles in science.

Learning how to convert energy from one form to another more efficiently is one of the main
goals of modern science and technology.

Useful work output

Efficiency   100%
Total work input
Useful energy output
Efficiency   100%
Total energy input

Useful power output

Efficiency   100%
Total power input
Average power is defined

 as the rate at which work is done (= work done divided by the time to do it),
 as the rate at which energy is transformed.
That is:
Work done energy tra nsformed W
P  
time take time take t

SI Unit of Power is the Watt and 1 Watt (W) = 1 Joules / second

An alternative expression for the average power can be obtained from the above equation
W Fx x
P  F
t t t
P  Fv
Where v  x t is the average speed of the object.

1. Draw a picture.
2. Determine the system for which energy will be conserved: the object or objects and
the forces acting.
3. Ask yourself what quantity you are looking for, and decide what are the initial (point
1) and final (point 2) locations.
4. If the body under investigation changes its height during the problem, then choose
a y = 0 level for gravitational potential energy. This may be chosen for
convenience; the lowest point in the problem is often a good choice.
5. If springs are involved, choose the unstretched spring position to be x (or y) = 0.
6. If no friction or other nonconservative forces act, then apply conservation of
mechanical energy:
EK 1 + EP 1 = EK 2 + EP 2
7. Solve for the unknown quantity.

8. If friction or other nonconservative forces are present, then an additional term

(W NC) will be needed:
WNC = EK + EP.
To be sure which sign to give W NC, or on which side of the equation to put it, use your
intuition: is the total mechanical energy increased or decreased in the process?

Problem solving is not a process that can be done by following a set of rules. The
steps above is thus not a prescription, but is a summary of steps to help you get
started in solving problems involving energy.
Falling rock. If the original height of the stone is y, = h = 3.0 m, calculate the stone's speed
when it has fallen to 1.0 m above the ground.


A roller-coaster car moving without friction illustrates the conservation of mechanical energy.

A Roller-coaster speed using energy conservation, Assuming the height of the hill in
Figure above is 40 m, and the roller-coaster car starts from rest at the top, calculate (a)
the speed of the roller-coaster car at the bottom of the hill, and (b) at what height it will
have half this speed. Take y = 0 at the bottom of the hill.

Example 3

Estimate the kinetic energy and the speed required for a 70-kg pole vaulter to just pass
over a bar 5.0 m high. Assume the vaulter's centre of mass is initially 0.90 m off the ground
and reaches its maximum height at the level of the bar itself.
Toy dart gun. A dart of mass 0.100 kg is pressed against the spring of a toy dart gun as
shown in Figure below. The spring (with spring constant k = 250 N/m) is compressed
6.0 cm and released. If the dart detaches from the spring when the latter reaches its
normal length (x = 0), what speed does the dart acquire?

EXAMPLE 5 Two kinds of PE.

A ball of mass m = 2.60 kg, starting from rest, falls a vertical distance h = 55.0 cm before
striking a vertical coiled spring, which it compresses (see Fig. ) an amount Y = 15.0 cm.
Determine the spring constant of the spring. Assume the spring has negligible mass.
Measure all distances from the point where the ball first touches the uncompressed
spring (y = 0 at this point).
EXAMPLE 6 Bungee jump

Dave jumps off a bridge with a bungee cord (a heavy stretchable cord) tied around his
ankle (Fig. 6-25). He falls for 15 meters before the bungee cord begins to stretch.
Dave's mass is 75 kg and we assume the cord obeys Hooke's law, F = - kx, with k =
50 N/m. If we neglect air resistance, estimate how far below the bridge Dave will fall
before coming to a stop. Ignore the mass of the cord (not realistic. however).

EXAMPLE 6 Friction on the roller coaster.

The roller-coaster car in figure is found to reach a vertical height of only 25 m on the
second hill before coming to a stop (Fig. 6-27). It travelled a total distance of 400 m.
Estimate the average friction force (assume constant) on the car, whose mass is 1000 kg.

EXAMPLE 7 Stair-climbing power.

A 70-kg jogger runs up a long flight of stairs in 4.0 s. The vertical height of the stairs is 4.5
m. (a) Estimate the jogger's power output in watts and horsepower. (b) How much energy
did this require?
EXAMPLE 8 Power needs of a car.

Calculate the power required of a 1400-kg car under the following circumstances: (a) the
car climbs a 10 hill (a fairly steep hill) at a steady 80 km/h; and (b) the car accelerates
along a level road from 90 to 110 km/h in 6.0 s to pass another car. Assume the retarding
force on the car is F R = 700 N throughout. See Figure (Be careful not to confuse FR, which
is due to air resistance and friction that retards the motion, with the force F needed to
accelerate the car, which is the frictional force exerted by the road on the tires-the
reaction to the motor-driven tires pushing against the road.)

July 2004
4. (a) State work-energy theorem, and the principle of conservation of mechanical energy.
(b) A 0.5 kg projectile is fired vertically up with an initial speed of 10 m/s from the top of a
120 m tall building. The projectile hits the ground after a time t.
Find (i) the gravitational potential energy of the projectile at its maximum height,
(ii) the change in its kinetic energy during the time interval t,
(iii) the speed with which the projectile hits the ground.
Neglect air resistance and assume that the gravitational potential energy at the ground
level is 0 J.
(c) A 1.0 kg block of plastic is projected along a horizontal surface. The coefficient of
kinetic friction between the surface and the block is 0.18. The block slides 200 cm along
the floor and comes to rest.
Find (i) the magnitude of the frictional force acting on the block while sliding,
(ii) the work done by the frictional force,
(iii) the initial speed of projection of the plastic block.
(4 + 8 + 8 marks)
July 2003
3. (a) State Newton's laws of motion.
(b) (i) Define the term power.
(ii) Show that the power delivered to an object by a constant force F acting on the object is
given by P = Fv, where v is the instantaneous velocity of the object.
(c) An engine of mass 10,500 kg pulls a train of mass 50,000 kg along a straight railway track at
a speed of 85 km hr-1. The resistance to the motion of the engine is 500 N and the resistance
to the motion of the train is 9000N. The tension in the coupling between the engine and the
train is T, and the engine is exerting a power of 500 kW.
Find (i) the forward force of the engine,
(ii) the acceleration of the train,
(iii) the tension T,
(iv) the maximum speed that the train can acquire, if the resistances and the power
output of the engine remain unchanged.
(3 + 4 + 13 marks)
December 2002
6. (a) State the principle of conservation of mechanical energy.
Give its mathematical form in terms of the mass of an object, speed, height above a
reference level and acceleration due to gravity.
(b) A missile having a mass. of 60 kg is fired from the top of a cliff, at an enemy plane. The
height of the cliff is 1500 m. The missile rises to a height of 3400 m and falls back to the sea
after missing the enemy plane. The heights given are from sea level.
Calculate (i) the change in missile's potential energy on its upward journey,
(ii) the change in missile's potential energy on its downward journey,
(iii) the initial firing speed. Neglect air resistance.
(c) (i) What do you understand by the term renewable energy?
(ii) Describe briefly the methods of conversion of solar and wind energy into electrical energy.
State the practical uses of solar and wind energy.
December 2001
6. (a) State and prove the work-energy theorem. (2 +4 marks)
(b) A car having a mass of 2000 kg moves along a level highway tinder the action of two forces. One
is a forward thrust on the car of 1000 N from the motor and the other is a force of 950 N due to air
resistance. Find the speed of the car after it has moved a distance of 20 m, assuming it starts from
rest. Calculate also the average power delivered to the car by the motor during the 20 m strip.
(5 + 3 marks)
(c) A child is in a swing attached to ropes of equal length. The lowest point of the circular path of the
swing is 1 m above the flat ground and highest point is 3 m above the ground. Using the principle of
conservation of mechanical energy, find the speed of the child at the lowest point in the circular
path. Neglect air resistance and the mass of the swing.
(6 marks)