# Potential Energy - Knowledge Bank - Solar Schools (2023)

An inflated balloon has potential energy in the stretched rubber.

## Potential energy

Potential energy is the energy stored within an object, due to the object's position, arrangement or state.

Potential energy is one of the two main forms of energy, along with kinetic energy.

Kinetic energy used to compress a spring is stored as potential energy until released.

## What is potential energy?

Potential energy is energy that is stored – or conserved - in an object or substance. This stored energy is based on the position, arrangement or state of the object or substance.

You can think of it as energy that has the 'potential' to do work. When the position, arrangement or state of the object changes, the stored energy will be released.

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For example, it requires energy to compress a spring – but what happens to that energy once the spring has been compressed? After all, we know that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be converted from one form to another.

Well, in the case of our spring, the kinetic energy used to compress the spring has been converted to potential energy. When we release the spring, the stored potential energy will be converted back into kinetic energy.

## What are the different types of potential energy?

There are two main types of potential energy:

• Gravitational potential energy
• Elastic potential energy

Higher objects (with further to fall) have greater potential energy.

The heaviest of 2 objects at the same height has the greatest gravitational potential energy.

## Gravitational potential energy

Gravitational potential energy is energy in an object that is held in a vertical position, due to the force of gravity working to pull it down.

The amount of gravitational potential energy an object has depends on its height and mass. The heavier the object and the higher it is above the ground, the more gravitational potential energy it holds.

Gravitational potential energy increases as weight and height increases.

Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object or substance.

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Gravitational potential energy is energy in an object that is held in a vertical position.

Elastic potential energy is energy stored in objects that can be stretched or compressed.

## Elastic potential energy

Elastic potential energy is energy stored in objects that can be stretched or compressed, such as trampolines, rubber bands and bungee cords.

The more an object can stretch, the more elastic potential energy it has.

## What are some examples of potential energy?

Examples of potential energy include:

A rock sitting on the edge of a cliff. If the rock falls, the potential energy will be converted to kinetic energy, as the rock will be moving.

A stretched elastic string in a longbow. When the elastic string is released, it will cause the arrow to shoot forward.

A sparkler. The chemical potential energy in a sparkler will be released when the top of the stick is lit.

The food we eat. Food contains chemical potential energy – as our bodies digest it, the stored energy is converted into energy for us to move and grow.

(Video) The Difference Between Kinetic and Potential Energy

A swimmer's gravitational potential energy is converted to kinetic energy on diving.

Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object or substance.

Gravitational potential energy is energy in an object that is held in a vertical position.

Elastic potential energy is energy stored in objects that can be stretched or compressed.

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The term 'potential energy' was first used by a Scottish engineer called William Rankine during the 19th century.

The concept of potential energy dates all the way back to the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle.

A spring stores elastic potential energy because it can be stretched or compressed.

Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object or substance. The two main types of potential energy are gravitational potential energy and elastic potential energy.

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## FAQs

### What is an example of potential energy at school? ›

With gravitational potential energy, an object has potential energy based on its distance from the ground. For example, a book might be on top of a high surface, like a shelf. The book has gravitational potential energy because it could fall to the floor from the shelf, due to the force of gravity.

What are the 3 types of potential energy? ›

There are three main types of potential energy: elastic potential energy, gravitational potential energy, and chemical potential energy. Elastic potential energy is stored in objects that can either be stretched or compressed.

What are the 7 main energy types? ›

Forms of energy include mechanical, chemical, electrical, electromagnetic, thermal, sound, and nuclear energy.

What are 5 types of potential energy? ›

Systems of objects ranging from atoms to planets can be arranged in many ways, resulting in many forms of potential energy: chemical, elastic, electrical (electromagnetic), gravitational, nuclear, and thermal energy.

What are 2 main types of potential energy? ›

Types of potential energy include: Gravitational potential energy. Chemical energy.

What are 2 examples of potential energy? ›

What are some examples of potential energy? A rock sitting on the edge of a cliff. If the rock falls, the potential energy will be converted to kinetic energy, as the rock will be moving. A stretched elastic string in a longbow.

What is potential energy in simple words? ›

potential energy, stored energy that depends upon the relative position of various parts of a system. A spring has more potential energy when it is compressed or stretched. A steel ball has more potential energy raised above the ground than it has after falling to Earth.

What is a real life example of potential energy? ›

A rock standing on a cliff's edge possesses potential energy. This energy is due to the height of the rock. Potential energy due to height is also known as gravitational potential energy. If someone pushes this rock, the stored potential energy is converted into the kinetic energy.

What affects potential energy? ›

This energy is stored energy and means that it can be used at a later time to cause an object to move. Gravitational Potential Energy is determined by three factors: mass, gravity, and height. All three factors are directly proportional to energy.

What are the 9 types of potential energy? ›

The different types of energy include thermal energy, radiant energy, chemical energy, nuclear energy, electrical energy, motion energy, sound energy, elastic energy and gravitational energy.

### What are the 10 classes of energy? ›

The five forms of energy are as follows:
• Electrical Energy.
• Chemical Energy.
• Mechanical Energy.
• Thermal Energy.
• Nuclear Energy.

What are the 4 main forms of energy? ›

Potential energy is stored energy and the energy of position.
• Chemical energy is energy stored in the bonds of atoms and molecules. ...
• Mechanical energy is energy stored in objects by tension. ...
• Nuclear energy is energy stored in the nucleus of an atom—the energy that holds the nucleus together.

What are the 4 classifications of energy sources? ›

What are the sources of energy in India?
• Coal.
• Natural gas.
• Thermal energy.
• Mineral oil.

What are 3 facts about potential energy? ›

Potential energy can be described as 3 characteristics that a specific object has. The shape of an object, the position of an object, and its readiness to transform into Kinetic energy.

Which best describes potential energy? ›

To summarize, potential energy is the energy that is stored in an object due to its position relative to some zero position. An object possesses gravitational potential energy if it is positioned at a height above (or below) the zero height.

Where is potential energy stored? ›

Potential energy is technically stored within matter, though a force must be applied to an object in order for it to store potential energy. However, while the energy itself is stored in the mass of the object, another force (gravitational or elastic) must be present to release the potential energy.

How do you explain potential energy to a child? ›

Potential energy is the stored energy an object has because of its position or state. A bicycle on top of a hill, a book held over your head, and a stretched spring all have potential energy.

Why is potential energy important? ›

Potential energy forms an essential part of our understanding of and place in the universe. In fact, the position of objects within the universe is what defines potential energy alongside the work required to move said objects. Everything we do affects the potential energy of things.

How does potential energy work? ›

Potential energy is when an object stores energy as a result of its position, making it capable of doing more work. For instance, a stretched rubber band is loaded with potential energy. Similarly, a ball, when released above the ground, will have more potential energy than after falling.

What is the other name of potential energy? ›

Solution : Configuration energy, mutual energy.

### What is the unit of potential energy? ›

The unit of potential energy is joules.

What is difference between kinetic energy and potential energy? ›

When an object is at rest, the body is said to possess potential energy. In another case, when the object is in motion, then it is said to possess kinetic energy.

Where does potential energy come from? ›

To summarize, potential energy is the energy that is stored in an object due to its position relative to some zero position. An object possesses gravitational potential energy if it is positioned at a height above (or below) the zero height.

What are the types of potential energy for kids? ›

A spring stores elastic potential energy because it can be stretched or compressed. Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object or substance. The two main types of potential energy are gravitational potential energy and elastic potential energy.

What is potential energy for 6th graders? ›

Energy stored in an object due to its position is called potential energy. Energy can be converted between potential and kinetic based on an object's motion.

What energy sources are used in schools? ›

Schools usually get their electricity from a power plant. Power plants use a variety of energy resources to generate electricity, including fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), nuclear power, and renewable energy resources (biomass, hydropower, solar, and wind).

What uses the most energy in schools? ›

Controlling heating energy usage

The heating system has the highest consumption in schools. It is used every day during the colder months. It is necessary to keep students and teachers warm during the winter. The heating system can be controlled by the temperature in the room.

What renewable energy is used in schools? ›

The two most popular options for schools are solar electric panels (or photovoltaics) and solar hot water systems.

How do you teach kids potential energy? ›

Potential energy is the stored energy an object has because of its position or state. A bicycle on top of a hill, a book held over your head, and a stretched spring all have potential energy.

Which object has the most potential energy? ›

The higher an object, the more potential energy. The more mass an object has, the more potential energy it has.

### What is electric potential energy for dummies? ›

What is electric potential energy? Electric potential energy is the energy that is needed to move a charge against an electric field. You need more energy to move a charge further in the electric field, but also more energy to move it through a stronger electric field.

How is potential energy measured? ›

Potential Energy can be quantified as mass times gravity times height (PE=m*g*h). The unit for mass should be either kilogram or pound mass depending on the unit system. Gravity is a constant, 9.81 m/ in SI units or 32.2 ft/sec² in English units.

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