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Homework Help: Avg force produced by gasoline

  1. Jul 8, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    "One gallon of gasoline contains 3.1*10^7 calories of potential energy that are released during combustion. If 1 gal of gasoline can provide the force that moves a car through a displacement of 25 mi, what is the average force produced by the gasoline?"

    2. Relevant equations
    This is where I am confused. All of the equations I can think of for average force require velocities, mass, time, etc. and I don't see how to get from here to there. Right now I am just using 1 cal = 4.18 Joules and 1 mi = 1609.3 m.

    3. The attempt at a solution
    Assuming complete efficiency,
    3.1*10^7 cal / 25 mi = 1.24 * 10^6 cal / mi
    then multiply that by 4.18 Joules/1 cal and by 1 mi/1609.3 m to get 3220.8 J/m (or N).

    This could of course be multiplied back out to "work", but that strikes strikes me as circular. I just don't know if the answer I have is reasonable/what the question wants, since it's flagged as difficult and I haven't done anything but convert units. What am I missing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2012 #2


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    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    See what you can do with: work = force * distance.
  4. Jul 30, 2012 #3
    Thanks, that was what the professor said too. As far as I can tell though work=f*d was already accounted for when I averaged calories/mile. In any case, this was the correct answer.
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