The Mechanical Power Formula in Pulley and Belt Assemblies

     Last time we determined the value for one of the key variables in the Euler-Eytelwein Formula known as the angle of wrap.   To do so we worked with the relationship between the two tensions present in our example pulley-belt assembly, T1 and T2.   Today we’ll use physics to solve for T2 and arrive at the Mechanical Power Formula, which enables us to compute the amount of power present in our pulley and belt assembly, a common engineering task.

    To start things off let’s reintroduce the equation which defines the relationship between our two tensions, the Euler-Eytelwein Formula, with the value for e, Euler’s Number, and its accompanying coefficients, as determined from our last blog,

T1 = 2.38T2                            (1)

    Before we can calculate T1 we must calculate T2.   But before we can do that we need to discuss the concept of power.

 The Mechanical Power Formula in Pulley and Belt Assemblies

 The Mechanical Power Formula in Pulley and Belt Assemblies


    Generally speaking, power, P, is equal to work, W, performed per unit of time, t, and can be defined mathematically as,

P = W ÷ t                               (2)

    Now let’s make equation (2) specific to our situation by converting terms into those which apply to a pulley and belt assembly.   As we discussed in a past blog, work is equal to force, F, applied over a distance, d.   Looking at things that way equation (2) becomes,

P = F × d ÷ t                         (3)

    In equation (3) distance divided by time, or “d ÷ t,” equals velocity, V.   Velocity is the distance traveled in a given time period, and this fact is directly applicable to our example, which happens to be measured in units of feet per second.   Using these facts equation (3) becomes,

P = F × V                               (4)

    Equation (4) contains variables that will enable us to determine the amount of mechanical power, P, being transmitted in our pulley and belt assembly.

   The force, F, is what does the work of transmitting mechanical power from the driving pulley, pulley 2, to the passive driven pulley, pulley1.   The belt portion passing through pulley 1 is loose but then tightens as it moves through pulley 2.   The force, F, is the difference between the belt’s tight side tension, T1, and loose side tension, T2.   Which brings us to our next equation, put in terms of these two tensions,

P = (T1 – T2) × V                   (5)

    Equation (5) is known as the Mechanical Power Formula in pulley and belt assemblies.

    The variable V, is the velocity of the belt as it moves across the face of pulley 2, and it’s computed by yet another formula.   We’ll pick up with that issue next time.


Copyright 2017 – Philip J. O’Keefe, PE

Engineering Expert Witness Blog



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