University of Wisconsin-Stevens suggest > CNR connected Programs > Wisconsin K-12 Energy education and learning Program > energy Education: Concepts and Practices > ar B: two Main forms of Energy
​ Unit 1: What is Energy?

Section B. Two Main forms of Energy

The energy we feeling all around us seems to have plenty of forms. Fires burn, rubber bands snap back, flashlights turn on and also shine, objects fall, and also things show up to it is in hot, cold, or just the appropriate temperature. Through so much going on, how have the right to we figure out what creates of power these things and also events have? After hundreds of years of observation and also experimentation, science has classified power into two main forms: kinetic energy and also potential energy. In addition, potential energy takes several creates of that own.

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Kinetic energy is defined as the energy of a relocating object. A thrown football, a speeding automobile, a marathon runner, or a rock falling native a cliff, are instances of objects that have kinetic energy.
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Potential energy is identified as the energy connected with the setup of a device of objects that exert pressures on one another. Potential power is save or released as soon as the plan of the objects and/or the pressures they exert on every other changes in some way. Systems of objects varying from atom to planets deserve to be arranged in numerous ways, resulting in plenty of forms of potential energy: chemical, elastic, electric (electromagnetic), gravitational, nuclear, and also thermal energy. 

Although potential power is frequently referred to together "stored" energy, two misconceptions might arise when referred to in this way. First, saying that power is save in something may indicate that power is some kind of invisible substance, which it isn't. Second, think about a textbook held over a classroom floor. Many would say that the textbook has actually potential power stored in ~ it, and it is often convenient to think that only the textbook has potential energy. However, the textbook has actually potential energy since it is part of a mechanism that consists of the Earth, one in i m sorry both exert gravitational forces on every other. In various other words, the textbook would certainly not have actually potential energy if it were no for the Earth. 

Various forms of Potential Energy

chemistry Potential Energy 

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The chemistry makeup (arrangement the molecules) the gasoline renders it a great fuel source. All nonliving and also living things, native automobiles come zebras, are comprised of molecules. The takes energy to do these molecules and also hold castle together. The energy stored in molecules is referred to as chemical potential energy. Throughout combustion, bonds room broken and also reformed creating new products. The energy stored in petrol is released by burning it (combustion). During combustion, chemical bonds are broken and reformed (changing gasoline into byproducts such as water and also carbon dioxide) publication energy. There are many examples of chemistry potential power being convert to kinetic energy to carry out work. The chemical energy in food is supplied by our body to move. In a lighted firecracker chemical power is provided to do a loud sound and also to scatter piece of the firecracker every over.

Elastic Potential Energy

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A stretched rubber band has the potential to do work or readjust things. This form of energy is dubbed elastic potential energy. It occurs when things (such as our skin, a spring, a trampoline, or a rubber band) resists being extended out of shape. The elastic potential power in a rubber band deserve to be used to perform work. For example, toy airplane fly when a rubber tape untwists and also spins a propeller. The elastic potential energy in the rubber band was converted into kinetic energy.

Electrical (Electromagnetic) Potential Energy

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Electrical potential energy is existing when positive and negative electric charges room separated from every other, together is a battery. As soon as you revolve on a maker that is battery-operated, such together a flashlight or a toy, the electric potential power stored in the battery is converted right into other creates of energy such as sound, mechanically motion, thermal energy, and also light. For an electrical appliance friend plug in, the electrical potential energy is kept by a turn generator of a power plant, hydroelectric dam, or a windmill. A solar cabinet stores electric potential energy similar to a battery as lengthy as the sun is bright on it.

Gravitational Potential Energy

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When something is lifted, occupational is excellent on the object against the traction of gravity. This occupational is converted to a type of potential energy called gravitational potential energy. Once the item falls towards earth like an apple from a tree, gravitational potential energy is converted into kinetic energy.

Nuclear Potential Energy


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Nuclear potential energy, or nuclear energy, is the energy discovered in the nuclei that atoms. The protons in a nucleus exert very strong repulsive pressures on each other as result of their hopeful charge. In turn, the neutrons that comprise a nucleus exert very strong forces on the protons to save them from flying apart. Splitting a big nucleus (nuclear fission) or combining little nuclei right into a bigger nucleus (nuclear fusion) overcomes these solid forces and also releases energy as a result. The power released by an separation, personal, instance nucleus is an extremely small, but huge numbers that nuclei have the right to release huge amounts of power as evidenced by the energy produced by atom reactors (fission) and also by the sunlight (nuclear fusion).


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Thermal power is because of the movement, and the kinetic energy connected with this movement, the molecules the make up things or substance. All objects possess thermal energy (even cold ones) because they have a temperature over absolute zero. Proof of thermal energy can be detected by measuring the temperature of an object.


Although technically incorrect, the word warmth is regularly used to mean thermal energy. In strict scientific terms, there is a distinctive difference between the two. Heat energy comes to the kinetic energy of the molecules within an object. Warm is the transport of energy in between two objects. Wherever possible, we have tried to stay true to this distinctions. However, because heat is the more familiar ax we regularly use that to facilitate understanding. 


Sound, mechanically motion, heat, and light space not easily classified together kinetic and also potential energy. They are evidence of energy.

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 Movementsoundheat, and light provide evidence that energy is present and also being used. Sound is created when we strike something. However does sound execute work? Yes, sound deserve to move things. Sound waves move the small bones in her ear and also shake windows once a loud truck overcome by. Sound waves are likewise evident in the vibrations from play a radio. 


Our human body is working also when it shows up to it is in still. Breathing, blinking, and also digesting food all require energy. For united state to perform these activities, our body burn the energy in food. We know this is happening due to the fact that we feel warm (burning generates thermal energy ). Therefore, heat is evidence that energy is being used.