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A Heat Engine: Relating Work to the P-V Cycle

Experiment #24 from Physics with Video Analysis

Education Level
High School


You have been studying your textbook carefully and are trying to understand how the work done by a heat engine can be related to changes in the pressure, P, and volume, V, of its working substance. In particular you would like to relate the work it takes to lift a mass to the area enclosed by a PV diagram that describes what happens the engine’s air — its working substance.


In this activity, you will

  • Explore how the work done by an engine that raises a mass during each of its cycles is related to the area enclosed by its PV graph.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.

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This experiment is #24 of Physics with Video Analysis. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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