Steam Engine As A Forced Oscillator Essay

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Waves & Vibrations Essay

Steam Engine as a Forced Oscillator by Patrick Coyle

The steam engine is a perfect example of a forced oscillator as the piston oscillates back and forth. The steam engine is a forced oscillator as it is a heavily dampened system that has a force to counter the resistance and keep the piston moving at a constant oscillation until the force is removed from the system.

[1] Figure 1: Glass working steam engine

[2] Figure 2: Steam engine diagram

Due to the steam engine being quite heavily damped this oscillator will just simply stop without a force to compensate for the resistance within this system. But the force also has to be applied at the perfect time as it will have no or little affect if it is applied at the wrong time so timing has to be taken into account and the size of the force also has to be just enough to overcome the resistance to either accelerate the piston or to keep it a constant velocity. The force though has to be equal to resistance to keep the piston moving at a constant velocity and to increase the velocity of the piston the force will have to be greater than the resistance in the system, but to decrease the velocity of the piston the force will have to
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So if there is no resistance this system could act like simple harmonic motion, but there is resistance in the system which means without the force it is a damped system and because of this force it has to be classified as a forced oscillator. So all of the forces have to act in perfect harmony to keep the oscillating motion going or else this oscillator will no act like a forced oscillator and will act like a damped oscillator or a simple harmonic

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