8 junio, 2024

22 Examples of Potential Energy in Everyday Life

Some examples of potential energy that we can find in everyday life are a swing, a wrecking ball, a trampoline, a stretched bowstring, a balloon or a spring-loaded gun, among others.

Potential energy is the process of storing mechanical energy of a physical system by virtue of its configuration and positioning. For example, a wrecking ball stores energy when held aloft with no activity.

It is necessary to emphasize that potential energy is not obtained from the displacement of bodies, but refers to the ability of bodies to create a force X when they are stationary, taking into account their position in space.

In this sense, it differs from kinetic energy, which is manifested when the body is in motion.

types of potential energy

There are several types of potential energy, for example: gravitational, elastic, electrostatic and chemical.

1- Gravitational potential energy

Gravitational potential energy is the energy that is stored in an object as a result of its vertical position or the height at which it is located.

In this case, the gravitational force, which attracts all objects towards the center of the earth, is responsible for the storage of energy in the objects.

The gravitational potential energy is calculated through the following equation:

Gravitational potential energy = mass x gravity (9.8 N/kg on Earth) x height.

In this sense, it is observed that there are three elements that affect gravitational potential energy: gravity, mass and height.

2- Elastic potential energy

Elastic potential energy is that which is stored in elastic materials and is the result of the traction and compression processes to which said objects are subjected.

The amount of energy stored in these materials depends on the tensile force to which the object is subjected: the more they are stretched, the greater the potential energy.

3- Electrostatic potential energy

Electrostatic potential energy occurs between objects that are repelled or attracted. In objects that attract each other, the potential energy will be greater the further away they are; On the other hand, in objects that repel each other, the potential energy will be greater the closer they are.

4- Chemical potential energy

Chemical potential energy is one that has the ability to transform certain chemicals into kinetic energy.

Outstanding Examples of Potential Energy

1- Wrecking Ball

A wrecking ball has gravitational potential energy, generated by the suspension of the ball on the crane.

2- Swing

A swing, like the wrecking ball, has gravitational potential energy because it is suspended from a support.

When the swing moves forward or backward, it stays stopped for a few milliseconds, allowing it to store energy. Similarly, the swing stores energy when it is not swinging.

3- Pendulum

Pendulums, like those on wall clocks, store potential energy thanks to gravity.

4- A ball rolling down a slope

A ball rolling down a slope has two moments when it can store potential energy: the first is when it is at the top of the hill, and the second is when it has finished descending and comes to a stop.

5- League

A rubber band in its natural state does not present any type of potential energy. However, when it is stretched, it begins to store energy, thanks to its elasticity.

6- Bungee cord

A bungee cord, like an ordinary rubber band, stores potential energy when stretched out.

7- Trampoline

A trampoline that is not being used has no potential energy. It begins to store energy only when an object bounces off of it. This type of potential energy is elastic.

8- Springs

Springs are a classic example of elastic potential energy, since when they are stretched they absorb potential energy that is released when they contract.

9- A bucket on a door

A bucket of water on a door has the potential to fall at any moment, so it is gravitational potential energy.

10- A bow drawn with an arrow

An arc that is not being used has no potential energy. However, when it is stretched and the arrow has not yet been shot, it begins to store potential energy due to its elasticity.

11- A rock on the edge of a cliff

A rock on the edge of a cliff has gravitational potential energy. If the rock falls, the potential energy is transformed into kinetic energy.

12- A fruit on a branch of a tree

Like a rock about to fall off a cliff, a fruit on a tree has the ability to break off at any moment due to the pull exerted by the gravitational forces on Earth.

13- A firework

A firework that has not yet been lit has chemical potential energy, since the reagents that make it up can explode when they come into contact with a flame.

14- The food we eat

The food we eat has chemical potential energy.

15- Toy batteries

Toy batteries have chemical potential energy that is transformed into kinetic energy when the toy is powered.

16- A car powered by gasoline

A gasoline-powered car, like a battery-powered toy, has chemical potential energy that can be converted to kinetic energy.

17- A spring gun

A spring-operated pistol exhibits elastic potential energy at the moment the trigger is pulled.

18- A magnet and a metallic object

When a magnet is placed at a distance from a metallic object, electrostatic potential energy is generated.

19- Two magnets facing each other by their positive poles

When two magnets face each other at their positive poles and are placed very close to each other, electrostatic potential energy is generated.

20- A balloon filled with air

A balloon filled with air has elastic potential energy, since the walls of the balloon have expanded due to the air.

21- A roller coaster

This type of attraction works by converting gravitational potential energy (moving away from the earth) into kinetic energy (moving at high speed).

22- Photosynthesis

This metabolic process of plants transforms organic or inorganic matter into chemical potential energy from solar energy.


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