As a simple example, burning one kilogram of coal releases more energy than detonating a kilogram of TNT, but because the TNT reaction releases energy more quickly, it delivers more power than the coal.
If ΔW is the amount of work performed during a period of time of duration Δt, the average power Pavg over that period is given by the formula
It is the average amount of work done or energy converted per unit of time. Average power is often called "power" when the context makes it clear.
Instantaneous power is the limiting value of the average power as the time interval Δt approaches zero.
When power P is constant, the amount of work performed in time period t can be calculated as
In the context of energy conversion, it is more customary to use the symbol E rather than W.
Power in mechanical systems is the combination of forces and movement. In particular, power is the product of a force on an object and the object's velocity, or the product of a torque on a shaft and the shaft's angular velocity.
Mechanical power is also described as the time derivative of work. In mechanics, the work done by a force F on an object that travels along a curve C is given by the line integral:
where x defines the path C and v is the velocity along this path.
If the force F is derivable from a potential (conservative), then applying the gradient theorem (and remembering that force is the negative of the gradient of the potential energy) yields:
where A and B are the beginning and end of the path along which the work was done.
The power at any point along the curve C is the time derivative:
If a mechanical system has no losses, then the input power must equal the output power. This provides a simple formula for the mechanical advantage of the system.
Let the input power to a device be a force FA acting on a point that moves with velocity vA and the output power be a force FB acts on a point that moves with velocity vB. If there are no losses in the system, then
The similar relationship is obtained for rotating systems, where TA and ωA are the torque and angular velocity of the input and TB and ωB are the torque and angular velocity of the output. If there are no losses in the system, then
^Heron, C. A. (1906). "Electrical Calculations for Rallway Motors". Purdue Eng. Rev. (2): 77–93. Archived from the original on 23 April 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020. The activity of a motor is the work done per second, ... Where the joule is employed as the unit of work, the international unit of activity is the joule-per-second, or, as it is commonly called, the watt. (p. 78)
^Burning coal produces around 15-30 megajoules per kilogram, while detonating TNT produces about 4.7 megajoules per kilogram. For the coal value, see Fisher, Juliya (2003). "Energy Density of Coal". The Physics Factbook. Retrieved 30 May 2011. For the TNT value, see the article TNT equivalent. Neither value includes the weight of oxygen from the air used during combustion.