Energy Transferred by Working
Energy and Thermal Physics

Fuels for warming and lifting

Classroom Activity for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

To introduce the idea that a chemical store can be emptied to do lifting (filling a gravitational store) or warming (filling a thermal energy store).

What to Prepare

  • a model steam engine linked to a drive shaft so as to be able to lift a load
  • a small burner set up to warm up water, preferably to near boiling in a short length of time

Safety note: Make sure you have practised with the steam engine, that it has been well maintained and that you are familiar with the latest CLEAPSS advice on the use of such engines.

What Happens During this Activity

Take a fixed volume of fuel and burn it to warm up some water. Then take a similar volume and use it to lift a load, pointing out the necessary losses due to some warming happening at the same time.

This activity introduces a key aspect of energy stores: they can be used to warm things up, or lift (and move) them. Emphasise these two possibilities. You might also draw attention to the need for both the fuel and the air – the chemical store that we are dealing with here is the fuel-plus-air, not one or the other.

Energy Transferred by Working
appears in the relation dU=dQ+dW
is used in analyses relating to Working Engines Thermionic Emission
is a special case of Work
has the special case Potential Energy Kinetic Energy
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