# Potential Energy and the Conservation of Mechanical Energy

D.1 Conservative and Non-conservative Force D.1.1 Introduction A “physical system” consists of a well-defined set of bodies that are interacting by means of forces. Any bodies that lie outside the boundary of the system reside in the “surroundings”. A state of the system is a set of measurable physical quantities that completely characterize the system. Figure 1 shows this division into system, boundary, and surroundings. Figure D.1.1: system, boundary, and surroundings. Up to now we have analyzed the dynamical evolution in time of our system under the action of forces using Newton’s Laws of Motion. We shall now introduce the concept of Conservation of Energy in order to analyze the change of state of a system. Definition: Change of Energy The total change in energy of a system and its surroundings between the final state and the initial state is zero, ?= EE ? + ?E = 0 (D.1.1) total system surroundings Our quest is then to identify experimentally every type of change of energy for all physical processes and verify that energy is conserved. Can we really play this “zero suanswer is that experimentally we can identify all the changes in energy. One important point to keep in mind is that if we add up all the changes in energy and do not arrive at a zero sum then we have an open scientific problem: find the missing change in energy! Our first example of this type of “energy accounting” involves mechanical energy. There will be of two types of mechanical energy, kinetic energy and potential energy. Our first task is to define what we mean by the change of the potential energy of a system. D-2m” game? Is there any physical content to this concept of change of energy? physicsphunhouse.com/physics/Energy.pdf

UNIT 1 . Because of its greater mass. Work is done when energy is transferred from one system to another. In the case of the car or the water balloon.and that each of these forms can be converted into any of the other forms. AS these examples show. A car rolling downhill and a water balloon falling towards its target have kinetic energy. For such objects KE is calculated by multiplying 1/2 the object’s mass (in kilograms) by the square of its 2 velocity (m/sec ). a thrown water balloon that is falling twice as 2 fast as a dropped balloon will have four times as much KE (2 = 4). nuclear.8 m/sec ) by the height of the hill or 2 2 the window (in meters). and thermal. since kinetic energy increases with the square of the velocity. because of its greater velocity. when a force is applied to an object.ENERGY SECTION 1 . mechanical. Recall also that kinetic energy comes in six forms . as water balloon that is thrown down will have more kinetic energy than one that is simply dropped from the same height. Kinetic energy can also be transferred from one object to another: imagine a car or the water balloon striking a pingpong ball and sending it flying. for instance. PE is calculated by multiplying the mass of 2 the object (in kilograms) by the acceleration of gravity (9. Potential energy is expressed in joules (J). A car stopped at the top of a hill and a water balloon dangling out of an upstairs window have potential energy.chemical. radiant. electrical. and a light bulb . For example. Potential energy is measured by the amount of work the object can perform. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. potential energy can become kinetic energy.ENERGEIA CONSERVATION OF ENERGY Background Information Recall that energy is defined as the ability to do work. a battery converts chemical energy into electricity. In fact. Energy may be either potential or kinetic. a falling car has more kinetic energy than a falling water balloon. 1 J = 1 kg-m / sec The other form of energy is kinetic energy (KE). Potential energy (PE) is energy stored and ready for use. Similarly.

and then electrical energy.tx.gov/pdf/114_inv.pdfMirip - .converts electricity into light and heat. A power plant that uses coal to generate electricity for your home is a complex system that converts the chemical energy in coal into thermal energy. Not all energy conversions are a simple as turning on a light bulb .energyeducation. www. mechanical energy.

It may exist in a variety of forms and may be transformed from one type of energy to another. Since the zero of gravitational potential energy can be chosen at any point (like the choice of the zero of a coordinate system). such as the stretching of a spring. The most common use of gravitational potential energy is for an object near the surface of the Earth where the gravitational acceleration can be assumed 2 to be constant at about 9.8 m/s . 2 Kinetic Energy: Ek = ½ mv where m = mass. Another approach is to say that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant even as energy changes from one form to another. g =9. h = height Gravitational potential energy is energy an object possesses because of its position in a gravitational field. v = velocity Kinetic energy is energy of motion. it quantifies the amount of work the object could do as a result of its motion 2 Gravitational Potential Energy: Eg = mgh where m = mass. It is equal to the work done to stretch the spring. The kinetic energy of an object is the energy it possesses because of its motion. which . Kinetic energy is an expression of the fact that a moving object can do work on anything it hits. these energy transformations are constrained by a fundamental principle. However. the Conservation of Energy principle.Conservation of Energy Energy can be defined as the capacity for doing work. One way to state this principle is "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed". x = change in length of spring Elastic potential energy is stored as a result of deformation of an elastic object. 2 Elastic Potential Energy: Ee = 1/2kx where k = spring constant.8 m/s . the potential energy at a height h above that point is equal to the work which would be required to lift the object to that height with no net change in kinetic energy.

.pdfMirip . According to Hooke's law (F = kx).edu/8.depends upon the spring constant k (measured in N/m) as well as the distance stretched. the force required to stretch the spring will be directly proportional to the amount of stretch..02t/www/./ReviewD.mit. web.