# Potential Energy

Potential energy is a type of energy that is stored in an object because of its position in a system. You might have heard the term "potential" before when someone says they have the potential to do great things. That means they have something special hidden within them. Potential energy works the same way. Objects can have potential energy due to electricity, gravity, or elasticity. In this article, we will dive deeper into the different forms of potential energy and their equations. We will even work through some examples to give you a better understanding. So, let's get started!

## Potential energy definition

Potential energy is a type of energy that depends on where an object is located within a system. This system could be a gravitational field, electric field, and more. Each system creates a different form of potential energy within the object. The reason it's called potential energy is because it's stored and can be transformed into other forms, like kinetic energy. Another way to define potential energy is the work required to move an object to a specific position in an external field. There are four types of potential energy which we will explore in this article.

## Potential energy formula

Potential energy is a type of energy that is stored because of an object's position in a system. The formula for potential energy depends on the type of system the object is in. Gravitational potential energy is the most commonly used form of potential energy. However, we can determine which type of potential energy an object has by looking at the context of the problem. For instance, if an object is falling from a height, its potential energy will refer to gravitational potential energy. If a spring is stretched, the potential energy comes from the elastic potential energy of the spring. In this article, we will explore these different scenarios in detail.

## Gravitational potential energy

Potential energy is stored in an object due to its position in the Earth's gravitational field. The potential energy of an object at a height h with a mass m is given by the formula PE = mgh, where g is the acceleration due to gravity. The potential energy is at its maximum at the highest point and decreases as the object falls until it reaches zero when it reaches the ground. Potential energy is measured in joules (J) or newton-meters (Nm). It is defined as the work done by a force of one newton (N) to move an object over a distance of one meter (m).

An example of potential energy being utilized is in hydroelectric dams, where water is stored at a certain height to allow it to have gravitational potential energy. When the water is released, it falls to a lower height, and the potential energy is converted into kinetic energy, which turns turbines that generate electricity. This is a great example of how potential energy can be transformed into other forms of energy to be used for practical purposes.

The water stored at the top of a dam has a certain amount of potential energy due to its position above the turbines. As the water flows down through the hydroelectric turbines, its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy, which drives the turbines and generates electrical energy. This process is known as hydroelectric power generation, and it is a clean and renewable source of energy that does not produce greenhouse gases or other pollutants. Hydroelectric power generation is widely used around the world and is an important component of many countries' energy mix.

## Elastic potential energy

The energy stored in elastic materials as a result of stretching or compressing is known as elastic potential energy. or in words where is the constant of elasticity of the material and x is the distance to which it is stretched. It can also be defined as the work done to stretch a rubber band of elasticity by extension.

In the figure above, a spring with a spring constant k is stretched by a force F over a distance x. The spring then stores elastic potential energy, which can be calculated using the formula EPE = (1/2)kx^2. Once the spring is released, this potential energy is converted into kinetic energy, which causes the spring to move back to its original position. The amount of energy released will be equal to the work done to stretch the spring over a certain distance. This is because work is equal to force multiplied by distance, so the energy stored in the spring is equal to the work done to stretch it. Elastic potential energy is an important concept in physics and is used in many practical applications, such as in springs and elastic materials used for shock absorption.

## Other types of potential energy

Potential energy can indeed be stored in different forms, including chemical potential energy. Chemical potential energy is the energy stored in the bonds between atoms or molecules. When chemical reactions occur, the potential energy stored in the bonds is released or absorbed, depending on the nature of the reaction. This release or absorption of energy is what drives the reaction and can result in the formation of new compounds, the release of heat or light, or other changes in the system. Examples of chemical potential energy include the energy stored in the bonds of food molecules, which is converted into kinetic energy (movement) in our bodies during metabolism, and the energy stored in the bonds of fossil fuels, which can be released through combustion to generate heat and electricity.

### Chemical potential energy

Chemical potential energy is a type of potential energy that is stored in the bonds between the atoms or molecules of different compounds. This energy is transferred when the bonds are broken during chemical reactions.

### Nuclear potential energy

Nuclear potential energy refers to the energy that is stored within the nucleus of an atom. This form of energy is incredibly powerful and can be released through processes such as nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, and radioactive decay.

In nuclear fusion, two small atomic nuclei are combined to form a heavier nucleus, releasing energy in the process. This is the process that powers the sun and other stars, and scientists are currently exploring ways to harness this energy for practical use on Earth.

In nuclear fission, a larger nucleus is split into two smaller nuclei, again releasing energy in the process. This process is used in nuclear power plants to generate electricity, although it is also associated with various safety concerns and environmental risks.

Radioactive decay refers to the process by which unstable nuclei release energy in the form of radiation as they decay into more stable forms. This process occurs naturally in radioactive isotopes and can also be induced in certain materials for various purposes, such as medical imaging and cancer treatment.

The combustion of coal converts the chemical energy into heat and light. Batteries store chemical potential energy which is converted into electric energy.

## Potential energy examples

Sure, let's work out these examples to better understand potential energy.

The potential energy of a spring that is stretched or compressed can be calculated using the formula:

Potential energy = 1/2 kx^2

Where k is the spring constant and x is the displacement of the spring from its equilibrium position.

Given that the spring constant k is 20 N/m and the displacement x is 0.1 m, we can calculate the potential energy of spring as follows:

Potential energy = 1/2 x 20 N/m x (0.1 m)^2

Potential energy = 0.1 J

Therefore, the potential energy of the spring is 0.1 J.

To calculate the work done to stretch the spring, we can use the formula:

Work done = 1/2 kx^2

Substituting the values of k and x, we get:

Work done = 1/2 x 20 N/m x (0.1 m)^2

Work done = 0.1 J

Therefore, the work done to stretch the spring is also 0.1 J.

## Unit conversion

To summarize, potential energy is the energy stored in an object due to its position or configuration in a system. There are different types of potential energy, including gravitational potential energy, elastic potential energy, electric potential energy, and nuclear potential energy.

Gravitational potential energy is the energy stored in an object due to its position in a gravitational field. It is given by the equation mgh, where m is the mass of the object, g is the acceleration due to gravity, and h is the height of the object above a reference level. The potential energy is maximum at the highest point and decreases as the object falls, reaching zero when it reaches the reference level.

Elastic potential energy is the energy stored in an object when it is deformed due to an applied force. It is given by the equation 1/2 kx^2, where k is the spring constant and x is the displacement of the object from its equilibrium position.

Chemical energy is a type of potential energy that is stored in the bonds between atoms or molecules of different compounds. This energy can be released through chemical reactions, such as combustion.

Nuclear energy is the energy stored in the nucleus of an atom, which can be released through processes such as nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. This form of energy is incredibly powerful and has the potential to provide a significant amount of energy for various applications.

## Potential Energy

What is potential energy?

Potential energy EPE, is a form of energy that depends on the relative position of an object within a system.

What is an example of potential?

Examples of potential energy areRaised objectStretched rubber bandWater stored in a damThe energy released during nuclear fusion and fission of atoms

What is the formula for calculating potential energy?

The potential energy can be calculated by EGPE  = mgh

What are the 4 types of potential energy?

The 4 types of potential energy are Gravitational Potential EnergyElastic Potential EnergyElectric Potential EnergyNuclear Potential Energy

What is the difference between potential and kinetic energy?

Potential energy is a stored form of energy due to the relative position of an object within a system whereas, kinetic energy is due to the motion of the object

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