What is Potential Energy?


Potential energy is mechanical or stored energy from an object that comes from factors such as its position relative to others, internal stress, electric charge or its condition rather than motion. This object has the capability of producing energy as these conditions change – this energy could be kinetic energy, chemical energy, radiant energy, thermal energy or sound energy.

Types of Potential Energy?

Gravitational Potential Energy
Elastic Potential Energy
Chemical Potential Energy

Gravitational Potential Energy: It is an energy stored in an object because of where it is placed. It is found in objects same height off the ground.

Elastic Potential Energy: This is an energy stored by the forces within a distorted elastic object. It can be found in rubber bands and springs

Chemical Potential Energy: This is an energy stored in the bonds between atoms and molecules. It is found in plants(photosynthesis), food, coal, propane and oil.

If a force acting on an object is a function of position only, it is said to be a conservative force, and it can be represented by a potential energy function which for a one-dimensional case satisfies the derivative condition which can be taken as a definition of potential energy. Note that there is an arbitrary constant of integration in that definition, showing that any constant can be added to the potential energy. Practically, this means that you can set the zero of potential energy at any point which is convenient.

The potential energy U is equal to the work you must do to move an object from the U=0 reference point to the position r. The reference point at which you assign the value U=0 is arbitrary, so may be chosen for convenience, like choosing the origin of a coordinate system.

The force on an object is the negative of the derivative of the potential function U. This means it is the negative of the slope of the potential energy curve. Plots of potential functions are valuable aids to visualizing the change of the force in a given region of space.

Potential energy is energy which results from position or configuration. An object may have the capacity for doing work as a result of its position in a gravitational field (gravitational potential energy), an electric field (electric potential energy), or a magnetic field (magnetic potential energy). It may have elastic potential energy as a result of a stretched spring or other elastic deformation.

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