Enter the mass, velocity, and height of an object into the calculator to determine the total mechanical energy.

Mechanical Energy Formula

The following formula is used to calculate the total mechanical energy.

ME = 1/2* m * v2 + m*g*h

  • Where ME is the mechanical energy (J)
  • m is the mass (kg)
  • V is the velocity (m/s)
  • h is the height of the object (m)
  • g is the acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s^2)

5 Essentials Questions About Mechanical Energy

Mechanical energy is simply the sum of energies possessed by a system, also, it can be described as the ability of a system to exert work.

In a system that’s ideally isolated or in a static system, mechanical energy is the same. It’s affected by any force acting on it such as frictional force if the system is moving.

What Is Mechanical Energy and what are its Types?

An ideal system in physics at any state has 2 types of mechanical energy:

  • potential energy
  • kinetic energy

Potential Energy

Potential energy (from its name) is the energy a system could have if it started moving. When a system is at rest, it has the maximum possible potential energy.

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy is the energy a system has due to its motion not resting. A system can be at its highest velocity when it’s at its maximum potential energy.           

Conservation of Mechanical Energy

When a system is moving, its potential energy and kinetic energy are fluctuating. When at rest, a system is at its maximum potential energy, but when it starts moving, the potential energy decreases, and kinetic energy increases.

Ideal and Real Systems

The sum of this fluctuance is mechanical energy in an ideal system. Additionally, a non-ideal system analysis would contain some other factors due to its motion such as friction force, gravitational force, and resistance.

Is Thermal Energy Part of Mechanical Energy?

When a system is moving, it faces friction, and friction causes heat. Heat is the transfer of thermal energy from one system to another.

Thermal energy is caused by the transfer of some of the mechanical energy due to movement. The amount of thermal energy transferred depends on frictional force and distance. ِ

In a sense, you can say that thermal energy can be a part of a system’s total mechanical energy.

Can Mechanical Energy Be Converted?

Mechanical energy can be converted to different energy types. In general, no system has one pure state of energy and no conversion between 2 types is absolute nor completely efficient. There’s always “crossfading” between all of them.

  • Compressing gasses is a famous example of converting mechanical energy into chemical energy.
  • Rotating a magnet inside a coil is an example of turning mechanical energy into electrical energy.
  • Playing string musical instruments turns mechanical energy into sound.
  • As mentioned above, mechanical energy can also be transferred into heat through friction for example. 

What Does Mechanical Energy Depend On?

To calculate mechanical energy we use the following formula:

Mechanical Energy= ½ mv2 + mgh.

In this equation:

m stands for mass

v for velocity

g is the gravitational constant

h is the height from the ground.

From this equation, you can see that the only variables are mass, height, and velocity. Thus, you can see that mechanical energy depends on an object’s mass in addition to its position and motion.

Can Mechanical Energy Be Negative?

Mathematically speaking, mechanical energy is merely the sum of energies. This means that if the sum is negative, mechanical energy’s value will be negative. Kinetic energy can’t be negative, yet potential can be negative depending on your frame of reference.

If you’re a basketball player throwing a ball, your ball’s frame of reference is your hands where the ball has zero potential energy.

When it goes up, it gains positive potential energy because it’s gaining positive height (h) (from the equation). When it goes down, it gains negative height because of its frame of reference.

Conclusion

Energy is conserved in each and every object in several ways and they interchange all the time. Mechanical energy is a wide field of energy to dip into because it’s interlinked with almost every process in our daily life.

If it intrigues you, you should read about the transitional states of energy conversions and how we apply these to use. Mechanical energy isn’t just about theoretical examples, it’s the base for how we operate machines.


Mechanical Energy Example

How to calculate mechanical energy?

  1. First, determine mass, velocity, and height.

    Measure the velocity the object is moving at, the total mass, and the height at which it sits.

  2. Next, determine the kinetic energy.

    Using the mass and velocity, calculate the total kinetic energy.

  3. Next, determine the potential energy.

    Using the mass and height, calculate the total potential energy.

  4. Finally, calculate the mechanical energy.

    Add the kinetic and potential together to determine the mechanical energy.

FAQ

What is mechanical energy?

Mechanical energy is the total energy of an object due to motion and potential motion. It’s the sum of the kinetic and potential energies of an object. This does not however include chemical potential energies. Hence the name “mechanical”.