Potential energy examples

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Potential energy is the energy stored in an object due to its position or state. It can exist in various forms like gravitational potential energy, elastic potential energy, and chemical potential energy. The amount of potential energy an object has is determined by its position relative to other objects or reference points. When the object changes its position, this stored energy can be transformed into other forms, such as kinetic energy, as the object moves.

Examples

Spring

Potential energy example - spring
The potential energy is present in a compressed spring, as it possesses stored energy due to its deformation | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

A compressed spring holds potential energy as a result of its deformation. This potential energy is stored within the spring, ready to be released when the spring is allowed to return to its original, undeformed state. The amount of potential energy is directly proportional to the degree of deformation, showcasing the dynamic relationship between the spring’s compression and its potential to perform mechanical work once released.

Inflated balloon

Potential energy example - inflated balloon
The potential energy resides in the stretched rubber of an inflated balloon, as it stores energy from the applied force used to stretch it | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

The stretched rubber of an inflated balloon contains potential energy, as it stores the energy derived from the applied force used to stretch it. This potential energy is a result of the elastic properties of the rubber, which allow it to deform and store energy temporarily. The more the rubber is stretched, the greater the potential energy it holds. When released, this stored energy is converted into kinetic energy, causing the balloon to snap back to its original shape.

Rock

Potential energy example - rock
The potential energy is contained in a rock sitting at the edge of a cliff, as it possesses stored energy based on its position above the ground | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

The potential energy within a rock perched at the edge of a cliff is a result of its elevated position above the ground. This potential energy is gravitational in nature, as the rock has the stored ability to do work due to its height relative to the ground. The higher the rock is above the ground, the greater its potential energy. This stored energy becomes evident when the rock is allowed to fall, as it converts its potential energy into kinetic energy, accelerating towards the Earth under the influence of gravity.

Stretched bow

Potential energy example - stretched bow
The potential energy is stored in the stretched string of a bow, as it holds energy due to its displacement from its equilibrium position | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

The potential energy in the stretched string of a bow is a result of its displacement from its equilibrium position. When the bowstring is drawn back, work is done against its natural state of rest, storing potential energy in the form of elastic potential energy. The more the string is stretched, the greater the potential energy stored. This stored energy is ready to be transformed into kinetic energy when the arrow is released, propelling it forward.

Hanging fruit

Potential energy example - hanging fruit
The potential energy is found in a fruit hanging on a tree branch, as it holds stored energy based on its height relative to the ground | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

The potential energy within a fruit hanging on a tree branch is a consequence of its elevated position above the ground. This potential energy is gravitational, as the fruit possesses stored energy due to its height. The higher the fruit is suspended from the ground, the greater its potential energy. This stored energy becomes evident when the fruit falls, as gravity acts on it, converting its potential energy into kinetic energy as it descends.

Wrecking ball

Potential energy example - wrecking ball
The potential energy is stored in a wrecking ball, as it possesses energy due to its elevated position | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

The potential energy within a wrecking ball is a result of its elevated position above the ground. This potential energy is gravitational, as the ball holds stored energy based on its height. The higher the wrecking ball is lifted, the greater the potential energy it possesses. This stored energy is significant in demolition scenarios, where the wrecking ball is released to swing and transfer its potential energy into kinetic energy, delivering a powerful impact.

Snow

Potential energy example - snow
The potential energy is present in the snow resting on a snow-capped mountain, as it holds stored energy based on its height and gravitational potential | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

The potential energy in the snow on a snow-capped mountain is a consequence of its elevated position and gravitational potential. The snow, situated at a higher altitude, possesses stored energy that is directly proportional to its height above a reference point. This potential energy becomes apparent when the snow descends, as gravity acts on it, converting potential energy into kinetic energy. The mountainous terrain serves as a natural example of the relationship between gravitational potential energy and the vertical position of an object, in this case, the potential energy inherent in the snow.

Roller coaster

Potential energy example - roller coaster
The potential energy resides in the wagon of a roller coaster, as it stores energy based on its elevated position on the track | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

The potential energy within the wagon of a roller coaster is a result of its elevated position on the track. This potential energy is gravitational, as the wagon holds stored energy due to its height relative to a reference point, often the ground. The higher the wagon is positioned on the track, the greater its potential energy. This stored energy becomes crucial during the ride, as the wagon descends, converting potential energy into kinetic energy, propelling the roller coaster forward.

Water

Potential energy example - water
The potential energy is stored in the water of dams and reservoirs, as it holds energy due to its elevated position | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

Pendulum

Potential energy example - pendulum
The potential energy resides in the pendulum bob, as it possesses stored energy based on its displacement from its equilibrium position | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

Bullet

Potential energy example - bullet
The potential energy is contained in a bullet before it is fired from a gun, as it holds stored energy due to its position in the chamber | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

Elastic band

Potential energy example - elastic band
The potential energy is stored in a stretched elastic band, as it possesses energy due to its deformation from its original shape | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

Pinball

Potential energy example - pinball
The potential energy is present in the pinball of a pinball machine, as it holds stored energy based on its displacement from its equilibrium position when launched | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

TV

Potential energy example - TV
The potential energy resides in a TV hanging on the wall, as it stores energy based on its position above the floor | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

Bungee cord

Potential energy example - bungee cord
The potential energy is stored in a stretched bungee cord, as it holds stored energy due to its displacement from its resting length | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

Lantern

Potential energy example - lantern
The potential energy is contained in a lantern hanging on a rope, as it possesses stored energy based on its height above the ground | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

Skateboard

Potential energy example - skateboard
The wheels of a skateboard hold potential energy before skating, as they are elevated and store energy due to their position | Image: Stock photo, unknown source[●]

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Image credit

  • The stock photos used in this post are sourced from platforms like Pexels, Pixabay, Canva, etc. Due to the age of the images, their specific origins remain unknown.

External links

Deep

Learnool.com was founded by Deep Rana, who is a mechanical engineer by profession and a blogger by passion. He has a good conceptual knowledge on different educational topics and he provides the same on this website. He loves to learn something new everyday and believes that the best utilization of free time is developing a new skill.

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