Examples of Mechanical Energy

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Mechanical energy is the energy that an object possesses due to its position and motion. The energy due to its location is called the potential energy and the energy due to its motion is called the kinetic energy. Therefore, mechanical energy is the sum total of the potential and kinetic energy of an object due to its position and movement.

To understand mechanical energy, we have to understand the concept of work. When we apply a force on an object, and the object displaces, we say, “work is done.” This displacement can happen either in the direction of the force or in the opposite direction of the force.

Sounds strange? Let me give you some examples. When an orange falls from a tree, the displacement of the orange is in the direction of gravitational force. However, when you throw a ball up in the air, the displacement is in the opposite direction of the gravitational force.

In the first case, the work done is positive. Here, the potential energy is reducing, and the kinetic energy is increasing as the height reduces. Kinetic energy becomes maximum and the potential energy reduces to zero just before touching the ground.

In the second case, potential energy increases with height and the kinetic energy reduces. At the highest position, kinetic energy reduces to zero, but the potential energy becomes maximum.

In both cases, mechanical energy remains conserved, and we call it the “principle of conservation of mechanical energy.”

Let us consider another situation where you are trying to displace a massive rock. Despite applying all the forces, you are not able to move the stone. As there is no displacement of the rock, no work is done. Even here, the mechanical energy remains conserved.

Below, I mention a few examples of Mechanical Energy to make you comfortable with the topic.

Examples of Mechanical Energy

  1. When we throw a rock up, the potential energy of the rock increases with the height while the kinetic energy reduces. A moment just after we throw the rock, potential energy is zero and the mechanical energy is only the kinetic energy. At the highest position, kinetic energy reduces to zero. Therefore, the mechanical energy becomes the potential energy only. Important to know: Examples of Potential Energy
  2. Let us consider another example where a book is kept on top of a table. Here the mechanical energy is the potential energy only. When the book falls from the table, potential energy gets transformed into kinetic energy. Just before touching the ground mechanical energy becomes completely kinetic energy. You may like: Examples of Kinetic Energy
  3. In a hydroelectric power plant, mechanical energy is transformed into electrical energy. We store water at a relatively high position to store massive potential energy. When released, potential energy gets converted into kinetic energy. This kinetic energy drives the turbine to generate electricity. Related: Examples of Electrical Energy
  4. A diesel engine converts chemical energy into mechanical energy in the form of kinetic energy. We burn fuel to generate heat energy. This heat energy is then converted into kinetic energy which drives the car. More Examples of Chemical Energy
  5. An electric motor transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy.

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