Smash Negativity Team

Differences Between Conservative and Non-conservative Force?

conservative forces, non-conversation forces

For work to be done, force is continuously required. The work done on an object is the sum of the energy transferred to it through work.

Once you apply a constraint to an object that causes its position to alter within the same course as that of the force, you’re doing work on this object.

Work done on an object is made up of two primary components: force on and displacement of the object.

Work has units of energy since it is defined as an amount of exchanged energy, so work done is measured in joules.

A conservative force, such as gravity, has its work determined by the start and end points of motion, not the path. Non-conservative forces, however, have been influenced by the path taken.

This article explores the differences between conservative and non-conservative Force, its applications, and examples of these forces. If you want to learn more, read on.

What Are the Differences Between Conservative and Non Conservative Forces?

PIRO4D, Pixabay

We will now take a look at what makes conservative forces different from non conservative forces. From the introduction above, we defined conservative and non conservative forces, which is obviously the first and major difference.

The differences are as follows:

Conservative forces are path-independent, while non-conservative forces are path-dependent.

In other words,the work done by non-conservative forces depends on the path taken, whereas the work done by conservative forces does not depend on the path taken.

In physics, a force is said to be conservative if it can be determined from a potential energy function. Non-conservative forces, on the other hand, cannot be determined from a potential energy function.

The most common examples of conservative forces are gravitational force and electrostatic force, which can both be derived from potential energy, while examples of non-conservative forces are friction and air resistance, which cannot be derived from potential energy.

What is Conservative Force?

Conservative force may be the work done in moving a particle from one point to another, such that the force is independent of the path taken by the particle.

It depends only on the beginning and final positions of the particle. It could be a force that does not alter the mechanical energy of an object.

Gravitational force and elastic spring forces are two examples of conservative forces.

What is Non-conservative Force?

Non-conservative force is a force that cannot be derived from a potential energy function. Non-conservative forces are commonly dispersed, meaning they result in the loss of energy over time.

The most common illustrations of non-conservative forces are friction and air resistance. These forces negate the motion of an object and alter over a couple of its active energy into heat or other forms of energy that cannot be utilized to do work.

Non-conservative forces are forces that modify the mechanical energy of an object. Examples of non-conservative forces include friction, air resistance, and liquid drag.

Law Of Conservation Of Energy

The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be made nor destroyed but can only be converted from one form of energy to another.

This implies that a system continuously has the same sum of energy, unless it’s included from the outside.

This can be especially confusing in the case of non-conservative forces, where energy is changed from mechanical energy into thermal energy, but the overall energy does remain the same.

The only way to utilize energy is to convert it from one form to another. All forms of energy follow the law of conservation of energy.

In summary, the law of conservation of energy states that in a closed system, which is a system that is confined from its environment, the full energy of the system is conserved.

Energy Conservation

In physics, energy conservation is characterized as “the rule by which the entire energy remains constant in a system that is not subject to external influence.”

The term conservation alludes to something which doesn’t change. This implies that the variable in an equation, which represents a conserved amount, is steady over time. It has the same value both before and after an occasion.

There are numerous conserved quantities in physics. They are often surprisingly valuable for making predictions in what would otherwise be very complicated circumstances.

In mechanics, there are three essential quantities that are preserved. These are energy, momentum and angular momentum.

Conservative Force And Potential Energy

Potential energy is the energy a system has due to position, shape, or arrangement. It’s stored energy that’s totally recoverable.

A conservative force could be a force that’s a function of position alone, with the result that the work done by the force depends only on the beginning and finishing points of a motion and not on the specific path taken.

Change in potential energy comes from the work done against a conservative force. In other words, potential energy increases as a conservative force does negative work.

Potential energy permits work to be done independently of the path. In this manner, you’ll be able think of it like this:

potential energy “sets up” the perfect situation for conservative force.

Examples Of Conservative and non conservative forces

For conservative forces:

Gravitational force: Gravitational or gravity could be a force that pulls in any two bodies within the universe, whether they have equal masses or not.

Newton’s Law of Gravitation states that all objects, including oneself, attract each other. The unit of gravitational force is Newton, indicated as N.

Gravitation is considered a crucial force as its impact on any object can be readily observed . Hence, Gravitational force acts on each object that has mass.

So gravitational force could be a fundamental force. Since there’s no touch between the objects, the gravitational force is a non-contact force.

Spring Force: The spring force could be a contact force or a restoring force that is also conservative. There is an interaction between the spring and the object joined to it. The spring forces restore the object to balance when it is displaced.

The work done by the spring only depends on the object’s beginning and final position. When a metal spring is extended or compressed, it is displaced from its equilibrium position.

As a result, it encounters a reestablishing force that tends to retract the spring back to its unique position. This force is called the spring drive. It could be a contact force that can be found in elastic materials.

Electrostatic force: The electrostatic force is an appealing as well as terrible force caused by the electric charge particles.

It is additionally known as Coulomb’s force. For example, the force between the protons and electrons in an atom is electrostatic and is responsible for the atom’s steadiness. In chemistry, the electrostatic holding force is critical and binds an ionic atom.

The greatness of the electrostatic force is given by Coulomb’s law. According to Coulomb’s law of electrostatic force, the  electrostatic force acting between two charges is specifically proportional to the product of the magnitudes of the charges and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the two charges.

The electrostatic force is  a conservative force. The work done by the electrostatic force does not depend on the path but depends, as it were, on the beginning and the final point.

Hence, the work done by the electrostatic force in a closed circle is zero since the beginning and final are the same in a closed circle. Subsequently, the electrostatic drive is a conservative force.

For non-conservative force:

Frictional force: Frictional force is the force created by two surfaces that contact and slide against each other.

It could be a result of the electromagnetic attraction between the charged particles of two touching surfaces.

One of the easier characteristics of friction is that it is parallel to the contact surface between systems and continuously in a course that restricts movement or attempted movement of the systems relative to each other.

Frictional force is an example of a non-conservative force since this force makes energy dissipate out of the system, usually within the frame of heat.

Air resistance: Air resistance is the force acting on an object that is moving through air flowing in the opposite direction.

The air resists the object’s movement, slowing it down through friction that is made as the object collides with air atoms.

There are two fundamental things that influence air resistance: the speed of the object and the cross-sectional area of the object.

Air resistance is a non-conservative force since the force is against the course of motion. Here, the energy spent is not saved within the body, which makes it a non-conservative force.


In conclusion, the main difference between conservative and non-conservative forces is that conservative forces are forces in which the work done is independent of the path and in this way, mechanical energy remains constant when such a force acts upon an object, whereas non-conservative forces are forces in which the work done is path-dependent and can convert mechanical energy into other forms of energy.

Deciding whether or not a force is conservative or non-conservative is vital because it can help us better understand our environment and how it behaves under diverse conditions.

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