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What are some pros and cons of mechanical energy?

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Quick Answer

Mechanical energy helps humans perform manual tasks in an easier and more efficient manner, explains the Physics Classroom. Benefits of mechanical energy are evident in construction projects, in which many of the activities involve machines lifting heavy objects and cutting materials into smaller pieces. Using mechanical energy also has drawbacks, one of which is that machines and equipment require maintenance to keep them in working order.

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Full Answer

Mechanical energy may be defined as a form of energy that relates to the position and movement of an object. This form of energy is classified into two categories. The first classification is potential energy, which is a form of stored energy based on an object's position in space. The second category is kinetic energy, defined as the energy generated as a result of the object's motion. These two classifications may also define mechanical energy as the ability to do work.

Mechanical energy is useful in manual activities, turning them into machine-driven work. A simple example of using mechanical energy is utilizing a hammer to drive a nail through a piece of wood. As the hammer is swung in the direction of the nail, the tool's kinetic energy applies a certain magnitude of force onto the nail, causing the latter to be thrust further into the wood.

In practical applications, the advantages of mechanical energy are highlighted in its ability to prevent human beings from doing manual jobs. Uses of mechanical energy in everyday life are found in elevator operation, rotating propellers in turbines on wind farms, and throwing a bowling ball for a possible strike.

Other drawbacks of using mechanical energy are that using mechanical energy for transport of fluids across long distances may create friction and heat energy that may destroy the carrier lines, and that in some cases, using machines to do simple manual tasks might be more expensive in the long run than relying on raw human power.

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