# Lesson 40: Conservation of Energy

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1 Lesson 40: Conservation of Energy A large number of questions you will do involve the total mechanical energy. As pointed out earlier, the mechanical energy is just the total of all types of energy. In many questions you will just have to concern yourself with kinetic and gravitational potential energy. Although there is no formal formula for mechanical energy, it could look something like... E m = + E p Example 1: A kg airplane is flying at an altitude of 497 m at a speed of 214 km/h. Determine the airplane's total mechanical energy. Remember to convert the speed into metres per second. E m = +E p E m = 1 2 mv 2 +mgh E m = 1 2 (14300)(59. 4) (9.81)(497) E m = =9.50e7 J Notice that the calculation and the answer have nothing to do with direction, since energy is scalar. We can treat this flying airplane as a system. A system is any collection of objects in a particular place that we have defined. We usually do this so we can describe a problem as having particular limits (e.g. the ball is rolling down the slope. ) Systems come in three main types, depending on what is conserved (kept constant) throughout the situation. System Matter Energy Isolated Conserved Conserved Closed Conserved Not Conserved Open Not Conserved Not Conserved In many questions we assume that we are dealing with an isolated system. An isolated system simply means a situation where nothing, not even energy, can enter or leave. Whatever you started with you finish with. Since isolated systems can't lose or gain energy, we have to be careful that nonconservative forces (such as friction) do not happen. Also, if work is done on or by the system it will change the energy of the system. In that case it can not be an isolated system As long as we deal with isolated systems we know that the total mechanical energy before and after will be equal. 12/2/2015 studyphysics.ca Page 1 of 8 / Section 6.2 & 6.3

2 E m = E m ' + E p = ' + E p ' So if the one type of energy decreases, the other type of energy will increase by a similar amount. Energy is not being created or changed, it is only changing forms or transferring from one object to another. This is known as the Law of Conservation of Energy. Example 2: A person is sitting on a toboggan at the top of a 23.7m tall hill. If the person and toboggan have a total mass of 37.3 kg, determine how fast they will be going when they reach the bottom of the hill. Assume there is no friction. If there was friction, then it would not be an isolated system. The frictional force would result in some heat being given off, which would be energy leaving the system. At the top of the hill the person isn t moving, so will be zero. At the bottom of the hill the E p will be zero because the person is zero metres above the reference point. + E p = ' + E p ' ½ mv 2 + mgh = ½ mv' 2 + mgh' 0 + (37.3) (9.81) (23.7) = ½ (37.3) v' e3 = 18.7 v' 2 v' = = 21.6 m/s Notice how in this example all of the potential energy the object had at the top of the hill has been turned completely into kinetic energy at the bottom. It s also possible to analyze how the potential energy steadily changes into kinetic energy during a fall Example 3: Wille E. Coyote is trying to drop a 10 kg boulder off a 10 m high cliff to hit the Roadrunner eating a bowl of birdseed on the road below. At this particular location, gravity is 10 N/kg. He wants to know the speed of the boulder at various points above the road... a) 10 m b) 8.0 m c) 3.0 m d) 0 m Don't worry too much about sig digs here. a) Well, this one ain t so tough! Since it s sitting at the top of the cliff, its velocity is 0 m/s. It might be handy at this point to calculate how much E p the boulder has at this time, since this is also the total mechanical energy it starts out with! E p = mgh = 10 (10) (10) = 1000 J = 0 Total Mechanical Energy = 1000 J 12/2/2015 studyphysics.ca Page 2 of 8 / Section 6.2 & 6.3

3 b) First, ask yourself how much E p the boulder still has at 8.0 m above the ground. E p = mgh = 10 (10) (8.0) = 800 J That means that 1000 J J = 200 J is missing, right? Well, not missing, just changed. According to the conservation of mechanical energy, that energy must now be kinetic! E p = 800 J = 200 J Total Mechanical Energy = 1000 J = 1 2 mv2 v= 2 m v= 2(200) 10 v = =6.3m/s So it's falling at 6.3 m/s at this time. c) Again, calculate how much E p you have at this new height of 3.0 m, then figure out how much is kinetic so they both add up to 1000 J total... E p = mgh = 10 (10) (3.0) = 300 J = 700 J Total Mechanical Energy = 1000 J = 1 2 mv2 v= 2 m v= 2(700) 10 v = =12m/s So it's falling at 12 m/s at this time. d) By the time the boulder has reached the ground, all of its potential energy is gone (it s zero metres above the ground!). We all know that when it actually hits the ground it will come to rest, but we are concerned with how fast it s going when it is right at ground level but hasn t actually touched the ground yet. We can assume that all of the potential energy the boulder had at the top is now kinetic energy at the bottom E p = 0 J = 1000 J Total Mechanical Energy = 1000 J 12/2/2015 studyphysics.ca Page 3 of 8 / Section 6.2 & 6.3

4 = 1 2 mv2 v= 2 m v= 2(1000) 10 v = =14m/s So it's falling at 14 m/s at the moment it hits the ground. You could be finding the same answers based on kinematics formulas from earlier lessons. In fact, you ll find that conservation of energy gives you new ways to do many problems that you did with kinematics formulas. More Examples Example 4: A toy car with a mass of 112g is pushed by a student along a track so that it is moving at 3.00 m/s. It hits a spring (k = 925 N/m) at the end of the track, causing it to compress. a) Determine how far did the spring compress to bring the car to a stop. b) If the spring only compressed 2.00 cm in bringing the car to a stop, explain what happened. a) We know that conservation of mechanical energy means that the kinetic energy of the car moving will be turned into elastic potential energy stored in the spring. So + E p = ' +E p ' = E p ' 1 2 mv 2 = 1 2 kx 2 x= mv 2 k = 0.112(3.002 ) = = m 925 b) If the spring didn t get compressed as much as predicted, it must mean that some of the energy wasn t transferred perfectly there must have been some waste energy released, maybe as the car rolled along the track or when the spring was compressed. This is not an isolated system. To calculate how much energy was released, first figure out the total mechanical energy the car started with (that would be its kinetic energy)... = 1 2 mv 2 = (3.00)2 =0.504 J...compared to how much energy it ended with (the elastic energy the spring did absorb) 12/2/2015 studyphysics.ca Page 4 of 8 / Section 6.2 & 6.3

5 E p = 1 2 kx2 E p = (0.0200)2 E p =0.185 J The amount of energy lost is... Δ E =E f E i Δ E= Δ E= J So there was 0.319J of energy lost to the surroundings. Example 5: A pendulum is pulled aside and then released as shown in Illustration 1. Determine its speed at the bottom of the swing. Even though this may look like a difficult problem, it really isn t. All we need to do is keep in mind that energy is conserved. The pendulum bob is 13.0cm above a reference point (it doesn t matter if it swings to get there), so it has potential energy. When it gets to the bottom of its swing, all that energy will have become kinetic energy. + E p = ' + E p ' E p = ' mgh = ½ m(v') 2 gh = ½ (v') 2 Cancel the masses. v '= 2 gh= 2(9.81)(0.130)= =1.60 m/s Example 6: Same pendulum as in Example 5, but now we want to determine how fast it is moving when it is still 2.00 cm above the bottom of the swing. So instead of letting it swing all the way to the bottom (where it has all kinetic and no potential energy), we look at the speed as it swings down but is still 2.00 cm above our reference line cm Illustration 1: Pendulum pulled to the side. + E p = ' + E p ' E p = ' + E p ' Notice we will still have some potential at the end. mgh = ½ m(v') 2 + mgh' gh = ½ (v') 2 + gh' v '= 2 g(h h')= 2(9.81)( )= =1.47 m/s 12/2/2015 studyphysics.ca Page 5 of 8 / Section 6.2 & 6.3

6 Example 7: Last pendulum question, I promise! Instead of having the regular information about the height of a pendulum, you have been given the information as shown in Illustration 2. The string is m long and held 40 o away from the vertical. If it is released from this point, determine the speed of the pendulum at the bottom. 40 o 0.750m The tough part on this one is figuring out how high the pendulum is above its reference line. We're going to have to start with some trig, then solve the problem using energy later. Start by drawing a triangle as shown in Illustration 3. Notice how Illustration 2: Another we are using the pendulum swung out at 40o as the hypotenuse, and (sigh) pendulum. we know that it is m long. The string of the pendulum will always be m long no matter where we hold it. Solve for the adjacent side that I've labeled y m 40 o y cosθ= adj hyp adj=cos θ(hyp) adj=cos 40 o (0.750) adj= m= y Illustration 3: Figuring out the adjacent side, y. Now remember that even when the pendulum is at its lowest point the string is still a total of m long, so = h h = h = m 40 o m 0.750m Now solve the rest of it just like Example 5. h Illustration 4: Finding the height. v '= 2 gh= 2(9.81)( )= =1.9 m/ s 12/2/2015 studyphysics.ca Page 6 of 8 / Section 6.2 & 6.3

7 Example 8: This question is an extension of the Atwood's Pulley question we did in Lesson 24: Newton's Second Law. The 7.50 kg box starts on the floor, and the kg box is 3.00 m above the floor. The boxes are released; determine the speed of the 7.50 kg box as the 12.0 kg box hits the floor kg 7.50kg Illustration 5: Atwood's Pulley again! Method 1: Kinematics If you look back to the question in Lesson 24, you'll see that we figured out the acceleration (using dynamics) as 2.26 m/s 2. We can use that to figure out the velocity. (Note, if we figure out one box's velocity, the other will be the same; it's just that one goes up while the other comes down.) v f 2 =v i 2 +2ad v f = 2ad= 2(2.26)(3.00) v f =3.69 m/s Method 2: Conservation of Energy The total mechanical energy before anything starts to move must be equal to the total mechanical energy at the end. Before they start to move, only one of the masses has any energy; the kg box is 3.0m in the air. Its potential energy is the total mechanical energy... Before E T = E p = mgh = (12.00)(9.81)(3.0) = J At the end both boxes will have kinetic energy, but we don't know how much (since we don't know the velocity). We do know that when the kg box hits the floor, the 7.50 kg box will be 3.0m in the air. We can easily calculate how much potential energy the 7.50 kg mass will have at that time. After E p = mgh = (7.50)(9.81)(3.0) = J Which means that we are unable to account for = J of energy at the end. This must be the kinetic energy of the two two masses as they are moving at the end. We need to divide that energy between the two masses, but since they have unequal masses the energy will be divided between them in a ratio based on their masses (x) (x) = J x = J x = J So the 7.50kg box has 7.50 (6.792 J) = J of kinetic energy. Figuring out its speed is easy now 12/2/2015 studyphysics.ca Page 7 of 8 / Section 6.2 & 6.3

8 = 1 2 mv 2 v= 2 m v= 2(50.94) =3.69 m/s 7.50 This is the velocity of both boxes, just in opposite directions. Homework p309 #2 p313 #2 p315 #2 12/2/2015 studyphysics.ca Page 8 of 8 / Section 6.2 & 6.3

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