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Determining the work to accelerate a package

Suppose that you push on the 30.0-kg package in [link] with a constant force of 120 N through a distance of 0.800 m, and that the opposing friction force averages 5.00 N.

(a) Calculate the net work done on the package. (b) Solve the same problem as in part (a), this time by finding the work done by each force that contributes to the net force.

Strategy and Concept for (a)

This is a motion in one dimension problem, because the downward force (from the weight of the package) and the normal force have equal magnitude and opposite direction, so that they cancel in calculating the net force, while the applied force, friction, and the displacement are all horizontal. (See [link] .) As expected, the net work is the net force times distance.

Solution for (a)

The net force is the push force minus friction, or F net = 120 N – 5 . 00 N = 115 N size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net"} } " = 120 N – 5" "." "00 N = 115 N"} {} . Thus the net work is

W net = F net d = 115 N 0.800 m = 92.0 N m = 92.0 J. alignl { stack { size 12{W rSub { size 8{"net"} } =F rSub { size 8{"net"} } d= left ("115"`N right ) left (0 "." "800"`m right )} {} #" "="92" "." 0`N cdot m="92" "." 0`J "." {} } } {}

Discussion for (a)

This value is the net work done on the package. The person actually does more work than this, because friction opposes the motion. Friction does negative work and removes some of the energy the person expends and converts it to thermal energy. The net work equals the sum of the work done by each individual force.

Strategy and Concept for (b)

The forces acting on the package are gravity, the normal force, the force of friction, and the applied force. The normal force and force of gravity are each perpendicular to the displacement, and therefore do no work.

Solution for (b)

The applied force does work.

W app = F app d cos = F app d = 120 N 0.800 m = 96.0 J alignl { stack { size 12{W rSub { size 8{"app"} } =F rSub { size 8{"app"} } d"cos" left (0° right )=F rSub { size 8{"app"} } d} {} #" "= left ("120 N" right ) left (0 "." "800"" m" right ) {} # " "=" 96" "." "0 J" "." {}} } {}

The friction force and displacement are in opposite directions, so that θ = 180º size 12{θ="180"°} {} , and the work done by friction is

W fr = F fr d cos 180º = F fr d = 5.00 N 0.800 m = 4.00 J. alignl { stack { size 12{W rSub { size 8{"fr"} } =F rSub { size 8{"fr"} } d"cos" left ("180"° right )= - F rSub { size 8{"fr"} } d} {} #" "= - left (5 "." "00 N" right ) left (0 "." "800"" m" right ) {} # ital " "= - 4 "." "00" J "." {}} } {}

So the amounts of work done by gravity, by the normal force, by the applied force, and by friction are, respectively,

W gr = 0, W N = 0, W app = 96.0 J, W fr = 4.00 J. alignl { stack { size 12{W rSub { size 8{"gr"} } =0,} {} #W rSub { size 8{N} } =0, {} # W rSub { size 8{"app"} } ="96" "." 0" J," {} #W rSub { size 8{"fr"} } = - 4 "." "00"" J" "." {} } } {}

The total work done as the sum of the work done by each force is then seen to be

W total = W gr + W N + W app + W fr = 92 .0 J . size 12{W rSub { size 8{"total"} } =W rSub { size 8{"gr"} } +W rSub { size 8{N} } +W rSub { size 8{"app"} } +W rSub { size 8{"fr"} } ="92" "." 0" J"} {}

Discussion for (b)

The calculated total work W total size 12{W rSub { size 8{"total"} } } {} as the sum of the work by each force agrees, as expected, with the work W net size 12{W rSub { size 8{"net"} } } {} done by the net force. The work done by a collection of forces acting on an object can be calculated by either approach.

Determining speed from work and energy

Find the speed of the package in [link] at the end of the push, using work and energy concepts.


Here the work-energy theorem can be used, because we have just calculated the net work, W net size 12{W rSub { size 8{"net"} } } {} , and the initial kinetic energy, 1 2 m v 0 2 size 12{ { {1} over {2} } ital "mv" rSub { size 8{0} rSup { size 8{2} } } } {} . These calculations allow us to find the final kinetic energy, 1 2 mv 2 size 12{ { {1} over {2} } ital "mv" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} , and thus the final speed v size 12{v} {} .


The work-energy theorem in equation form is

W net = 1 2 mv 2 1 2 m v 0 2 . size 12{W rSub { size 8{"net"} } = { {1} over {2} } ital "mv" rSup { size 8{2} } - { {1} over {2} } ital "mv" rSub { size 8{0} rSup { size 8{2} } } "." } {}

Solving for 1 2 mv 2 size 12{ { {1} over {2} } ital "mv" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} gives

1 2 mv 2 = W net + 1 2 m v 0 2 . size 12{ { {1} over {2} } ital "mv""" lSup { size 8{2} } =w rSub { size 8{ ital "net"} } + { {1} over {2} } ital "mv""" lSub { size 8{0} } "" lSup { size 8{2} } "." } {}


1 2 mv 2 = 92 . 0 J + 3 . 75 J = 95. 75 J. size 12{ { {1} over {2} } ital "mv" rSup { size 8{2} } ="92" "." 0`J+3 "." "75"`J="95" "." "75"`J} {}

Solving for the final speed as requested and entering known values gives

v = 2 (95.75 J) m = 191.5 kg m 2 /s 2 30.0 kg = 2.53 m/s.


Using work and energy, we not only arrive at an answer, we see that the final kinetic energy is the sum of the initial kinetic energy and the net work done on the package. This means that the work indeed adds to the energy of the package.

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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