# Difference Between Work and Energy

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023

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## Introduction

In performing our day to day activities, we come across various words like power, energy, work etc. All these terms are closely related to each other. The two terms, energy and work are the most prominent characteristics of any matter. Every activity in the universe occurs as a result of the transfer of energy and the work that the transmitted energy does on the substance. Even though joule is the SI unit for both work and energy, there are significant variations between the two. Work and energy are two examples of scalar functions that are both reliant on and distinct from one another. It is, therefore, critical to understand the distinction between them to fully and precisely understand a system.

## Work vs Energy

The major difference between work and energy is that work is the ability to give force and change the distance to an object. On the other hand, energy is the ability to create or produce work. The work is positive if the applied force is on the same side as the movement. The work is negative if the applied force is in the reverse direction as the movement. Energy, on the other hand, has no direction factor because it is a scalar quantity.

## What is Work?

Work, in physics, is defined as a force that causes an item to move (or be displaced). Work is the scalar product of the force applied to any item and the movement induced by that force in the case of a constant force. Work is the outcome of the energy that is being transmitted to an item as a result of the force. This force has to cause a displacement. If there is no displacement, the work done is considered to be zero or negative. The SI unit of work done is the Joule (J). However, N-m can also be used sometimes to define work done. A joule is understood as one Newton of external force exerted to generate a movement of one meter.

Work done on a body is equal to the increase in the energy of the body, for work transfers that energy to the body. If, however, the applied force is opposite to the movement of the object, the work is then considered to be negative, implying that energy is withdrawn from the object. Work requires force as well as a fluctuation from one location to the other. French mathematician, Gaspard Coriolis, coined the term work for the first time. In 1826, he invented the term.

Depending on the context, work may be in a variety of ways. For instance: the work done while compressing gas at a constant temperature is the product of pressure multiplied by the change in volume. It sends energy to the body and, therefore the amount of work done on the body is proportional to the rise in the energy. If the applied force opposes the motion of the object, the work done is considered to be negative, meaning that the energy is being taken away from the object or the thing.

The formula for work done is:

W = f x d

Where w stands for work done, f stands for the force applied and d stands for the displacement caused by the force.

### Types of Work

Depending, on the force provided, there are three types of work done. They are

1. Positive Work: when the force applied to the object leads to the movement in that similar direction, it can be called positive work. E.g. when a force is applied to a ball in the right direction, and it caused the ball to move in the right direction, the movement can be called positive work.
2. Negative Work: when the force applied to the object leads to the movement in the opposite direction, it is termed negative work. E.g. if the force is applied to a ball to move in the upward direction, but due to gravitational pull, it falls, that kind of work is termed as negative because the force applied and the displacement caused are contradictory to each other.
3. Zero Work: when the force applied and the displacement is perpendicular to each other, it is termed zero work done. For instance: trying to push a concrete wall would not let the wall move. Here, both the force applied and the displacement caused are ineffective and equal to zero.

## What is Energy?

In simple words, energy is the ability to do work. One of the fundamental properties of energy is that it is preserved throughout the cosmos. Energy can neither be generated nor dissipated artificially. We can only modify the energy's shape. Energy, unlike work, comes in a variety of forms.

Energy cannot be generated or destroyed in a particle system. It must transform from one form to another. As a result, there exist several forms of energy. Mechanical energy, chemical energy, kinetic energy, solar energy, thermal energy, potential energy, and so on are a few instances. The SI unit of energy is also Joule (J). Every sort of movement is propelled by energy. Walking, jogging, and bicycling all need chemical energy supplied from food to power our muscles and keep us going. Trains run on electricity or a mix of thermal and chemical energy derived from fossil fuels. As it is propelled by the wind, a sailboat expends mechanical energy. Wind energy may propel a sailboat, but it can also be transformed into electrical energy by employing a wind turbine.

The formula for energy varies since there are many different types of energy. However, the formula for kinetic energy is:

K.E. = 1/2 m v2 where the mass of the body is denoted by m and the velocity with which the body is travelling is v.

The formula for potential energy is as follows:

P.E. = m x g x h (mgh), where m is the mass in kilograms, g is the acceleration due to gravity and h is the height in meters.

### Types of Energy

There are various types of energy. Some of them are described as under:

1. Potential Energy: it is the energy associated with an object's location. For instance: a youngster swinging on a swing has the most stored energy when she reaches the peak of the arc. Her potential energy is lowest when she is nearest to the ground.
2. Thermal Energy: Thermal energy is the energy of moving or vibrating molecules that a substance or system has concerning its temperature. Heat builds up as these particles move quicker. Thermal energy in the earth is referred to as geothermal energy. For example, we use solar energy to generate electricity.
3. Gravitational Energy: Gravity means the pulling between two things dependent on their magnitude. The more gravitational energy is stored, the higher and heavier the item. Water falling down a cliff is one example. In addition, gravitational energy keeps the atmosphere attached to the Earth.
4. Chemical Energy: It is produced as a result of chemical reactions between atoms or molecules. Chemical energy may be found in batteries, bio-fuel, gasoline, fossil fuels, and lignite. A chemical reaction releases chemical energy, which is generally in the form of heat.
5. Kinetic Energy: it is the energy contained inside moving objects or masses. It has a value between 0 and 1. Radiation, ions, molecules, compounds, substances, etc. are some examples of kinetic energy.
6. Nuclear Energy: It is the energy contained within each atom. When nuclei unite or break off, a large quantity of energy is produced. In the world, thirty-five nations, including India, generate power from nuclear sources. Nuclear energy includes nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, and nuclear disintegration.
7. Sonic Energy: sound energy is the energy contained in sound waves. Sound waves pass via the medium of air or another. When a force causes an item or material to oscillate, the sound is produced. The energy is then transported as a wave through the material. Sound often has less power than other sources of energy. For example, a piece of music playing on a radio.

## Differences Between Energy and Work in Points

• Both energy and work are scalar quantities. Their magnitude or speed is not dependent upon the direction. However, the amount of work done is determined by the direction. Work done is in the affirmative if the force acting is in the same direction as the movement of the object, and vice versa. The volume of work completed is not dependent upon the direction, but the task is completed based on the direction. Energy, on the other hand, is not affected by direction.
• There is only one type of work. On the other hand, different forms of energy exist. Kinetic energy, potential energy, geothermal energy, chemical energy, electrical energy, mechanical energy, nuclear energy, gravitational energy, sound energy, electromagnetic energy, etc. are some examples.
• Work is the product of two vector quantities. On the other hand, energy is an inherent property of a system.
• Work is itself a form of the umbrella term energy. On the other hand, energy may exist in many different forms.
• Work is positive if the force is applied in the same order as the motion. Similarly, the work is negative if the force is applied in the opposite direction as the motion. On the other hand, since energy is a scalar quantity, it does not have a directional factor.

## Conclusion

Thus, from the above explanation it can be seen that though there is a natural tendency to use the two terms energy and work in a similar context, there are some minute differences between the two. Both of them are not similar though they are used to determine the characteristics of any substance or object. Energy is the capability to do a job or work. And work is the ability to provide force and bring a change into the direction of the object. When an object is in motion, it is kinetic, and when an object is at rest, it is potential. But in the case of work, there is just one type. However, the SI unit of both work and energy is the same, i.e. they are measured in Joule (J). Despite both being scalar units, work can be measured or determined by the displacement in the direction of the matter. On the other hand, energy is not affected by the direction and hence, cannot be determined easily.

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"Difference Between Work and Energy." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 29 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-work-and-energy-779>.

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