Energy is everywhere and comes in numerous forms, with the two most common forms known as potential energy and kinetic energy.

You are watching: The amount of kinetic energy an object has depends on its mass and its speed.

despite they’re really different in state of just how they interact with the physics world, castle have certain aspects the make them complementary come one another. However to understand just how they work, you first need to understand what they room — and the definition of energy itself.  

What Is Potential and also Kinetic Energy?

Before knowledge either kind of energy, it’s critical to know what power really is. In the easiest terms, energy is the ability to execute work, which is as soon as a force is applied to an object and that moves<1>. 

Potential energy is among the two main types of power in the universe. It’s fairly straightforward, back slightly daunting to understand intuitively: the is a form of power that has actually the potential to carry out work but is not actively doing work or applying any kind of force on any kind of other objects. Potential power of things is discovered in the position, not its motion. It is the power of position.  

When objects room displaced from location of equilibrium, they gain power that was stored in the objects before being knocked out of equilibrium by elastic rebound, gravity, or chemical reactions. This is best demonstrated in an object like one archer’s bow, which stores the power that is developed from pulling earlier the bowstring. The potential power stored in the pullback is responsible because that the power that wake up upon release, which is known as kinetic energy.  

Understanding kinetic power is intuition easier due to the fact that it’s an ext obvious that moving things have actually energy.  

Kinetic power is created when potential power is released, spurred right into motion by heaviness or elastic forces, amongst other catalysts. 

Kinetic energy is the power of motion. When job-related is done on an object and that accelerates, it boosts the kinetic power of an object. The most important components that determine kinetic power is the movement (measured together velocity) and the fixed of the thing in question.  

While mass is a global measurement, the movement of an item can occur in many different ways, including rotation about an axis, vibration, translation, or any mix of these and also other motions<2>. 

There room three subcategories the kinetic energy: vibrational, rotational, and translational.  

Vibrational kinetic energy is, unsurprisingly, brought about by objects vibrating. Rotational kinetic energy is created by relocating objects, if translational kinetic energy is brought about by objects colliding v one another.  

These 3 subcategories that kinetic energy consist of nearly all of the power in motion throughout the known universe. 

What space the Differences in between Potential and Kinetic Energy? 

The key difference in between potential and kinetic power is that one is the energy of what can be and one is the power of what is. In other words, potential energy is stationary, through stored energy to be released; kinetic energy is energy in motion, actively using energy for movement.  

Another important difference is velocity. This measure up is the communication of kinetic energy, yet has nothing to carry out with potential energy. In fact, velocity is the most important component of the equation once determining the amount of kinetic energy for any kind of given object, and also it is missing in the potential power equation<3>.  


What Is the Relationship between Potential and Kinetic Energy? 

Although this primary develops of energy are really different, they room complementary come one another.  

Potential energy constantly leads to kinetic power when it is released<4>, and also kinetic energy is required to allow an thing to store power as potential, in one means or another. For example, a absent on the edge of a cliff walk not straight need kinetic energy to store the potential energy that will send it down the eroding cliff face. But the act of erosion to get the rock to the edge requires kinetic energy. Therefore, the rock needs it because that its potential energy. 

Given the these are the 2 main forms of power in the world, particularly on the human scale, there’s a continuous push and pull in between potential energy and also kinetic energy in day-to-day life. 

What Are instances of Potential and Kinetic Energy? 


Although the meaning of both potential and also kinetic energy may it seems to be ~ pretty straightforward and simple, it’s quiet not always easy come tell which type of energy is existing for specific objects or processes.  

1) Planets 

The motion of planets approximately the sun and also other stars in the galaxy is kinetic energy at work. As they are attracted towards the huge objects at the facility of their respective orbits, as result of the solid gravitational pull, they fall towards the facility of the mass. This results in an orbiting activity — and also all motion is a type of kinetic energy. <5> 

2) Rubber Bands 

Rubber bands can be classified together both potential and kinetic energy, depending on the state that the band. Once an elastic is stretched, that loaded through potential energy; as soon as released over there is a shift to kinetic energy. This is particularly true if the elastic is transporting one more object, such similar to a rock being flung indigenous a slingshot. <6> 

3) Rivers 

Rivers are strictly kinetic power at work. The water is constantly moving, and also all that movement is constantly producing kinetic energy. The just time a river might have potential power is if it is dammed, with the artificial reservoir storing power to be provided when required along a hydroelectric dam. <7> 

4) specific Variations 

There are specific variations of power within both kinetic and potential energy classifications. While part variations, such as the potential power stored in batteries, are easily apparent, others space not as easy to identify.  

What Is the Potential power of one Electron? 

Electrons space in motion, so they save kinetic energy. This is among the best examples of a nonphysical object carrying kinetic energy.  

However, that still feasible to discern the potential energy that an electron has actually stored. To find this potential energy, it requires a complicated formula<8>: 

U(r) = -qeV(r) = -keqe2/r 

The full energy is the amount of the electron’s kinetic energy and its potential energy, i m sorry is represented by an also more facility formula<8>: 

KE(r)+PE(r)=-½keqe2/r=(-½)(9*109)(1.60*10-19)/(5.29*10-11) J = -2.18*10-18 J 

Is a Battery Kinetic or Potential Energy? 

Batteries are a type of chemical energy, with energy stored in the bond of molecules consisted of within the battery acid at your core. The vital word below is “stored” — an interpretation batteries space a form of potential energy, i beg your pardon is how all chemical power is classified <9>. Biofuels and fossil fuels room other instances of stored chemistry energy. 

Is electric Energy Potential or Kinetic? 

Electrical power is classified together potential energy before it’s released and also used in the form of power, which is most commonly harnessed and used together electricity<10>. However, as soon as it is converted from that potential state, electric energy can end up being one that the subtypes that kinetic energy, including motion or sound, amongst others. 

Is Sound power Potential or Kinetic? 

Sound can be considered both forms of power at the same time, despite the primary way we experience it is in kinetic form. Sound energy in air, i beg your pardon is created from longitudinal waves that develop motion in gas molecules, is kinetic. In solids and liquids, which lug sound much farther than v air, this is both kinetic and potential energy at work.<11>  


Potential energy can be broken down into two subforms the energy. Every of this subforms are varieties of save on computer potential energy. But the an approach in i beg your pardon they space stored — and also released — room vastly different. 

What Is chemistry Potential Energy? 

Chemical potential power is save on computer in molecular bonds, i m sorry are likewise known together chemical bonds. Once these bonds are broken, the stored potential energy is released and also gives turn off varying levels of kinetic energy, depending upon the stamin of the bonds.<14> 

What Is Gravitational Potential Energy? 

Gravitational potential power is stored in the object due to the potential for the pressure of heaviness to move it and pull it in the direction of the Earth. The quantity of stored potential gravitational energy depends straight on the fixed of the object and, an ext importantly, that height over the ground.<15> 

The Science 

The 2 subforms of potential energy covered above role primarily with the 2 most basic fields the science. However, the mechanism that governs potential power in the realm of physics is much various than the mechanism that governs in the realm of chemistry. 

What Is Potential energy in Physics? 

Potential power in the kingdom of physics is in the form of gravitational potential energy. Gravity is perhaps the many important aspect of physics, together it is the basis of general relativity, i m sorry the entire modern world is based upon. The is this force that developed potential power in physics terms.<16> 

What Is Potential energy in Chemistry? 

Potential energy in the realm of chemistry is in the kind of chemical potential energy. This is energy stored in molecule bonds, i m sorry is the communication of chemistry and also chemical reactions. Save on computer potential power is released through these chemistry reactions.

See more: What Does The Prefix Cyto Mean Ing Cyto, What Does The 'Cyto' Mean As A Prefix


What room the Formulas because that Kinetic Energy and also Potential Energy?

The formulas for potential and kinetic energy are reasonably straightforward, however they are by no way simple.  

Kinetic energy can be discovered using the formula: KE=12mv2 

m = fixed (kg) v = velocity (m/s) 

Gravitational potential power can be discovered using the formula: W = m×g×h = mgh 

m = fixed (kg) g = acceleration due to gravitational ar (9.8 m/s2) h = height (m) 

Elastic potential power can be discovered using the formula: U=12kx2 

k = spring force constant x = stretch length (m) 

The units used to measure up each the these creates of power is the exact same as every the other forms of energy: the Joule (J), i m sorry is equal to 1 kg.m2.s-2.<17> 

Energy Everywhere 

You have actually learned around several develops of energy — together with some pertinent examples — but there is much an ext that needs to be extended to fully understand the ide of energy.  

However, understanding the 2 main develops of power that penetrate not only day-to-day life, but likewise the main point of physics throughout the universe, is a an excellent starting suggest and to adjust the foundation for any deeper dives into the nature of power itself.  

There are just two things that absolutely should be remembered: stationary objects with stored power have potential and moving objects are kinetic.  

Brought come you by


<2> Priddy B. What Is the an interpretation of Kinetic Energy? Published March 2, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2020. 

<3> Work, Energy, and Power. The Physics Classroom. Https:// Accessed November 9, 2020.

<4> Energy: Potential and Kinetic Energy. Infoplease. Https:// Accessed November 9, 2020. 

<5> Fenio, B. Rolling Race: A Spinning science Activity. Released March 23, 2017. Https:// Accessed November 15, 2020 

<6> scientific research World. Elastic Energy. Https:// Accessed November 16, 2020. 

<7> college of Calgary energy Education. Energy from Water. Https:// Accessed November 15, 2020.

<8> university of Tennessee, Knoxville. Electrical Potential. Http://,2.18*10%2D18%20J. Accessed November 15, 2020 

<9> Dusto A. Potential Energy: What Is it & Why It matters (w/ Formula & Examples). Sciencing. Https:// Released December 5, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2020 

<10> U.S. Energy Information Agency. Forms of Energy. Https:// Accessed November 15, 2020. 

<11> Sound Waves and Music – great 1 – The Nature of a Sound Wave: Sound together a Longitudinal tide Accessed November 15, 2020.

<12 college of Illinois room of Physics. Q&A: Kinetic and also Potential. Https://,microscopic%20scale%20of%20moving%20molecules.. Accessed November 15, 2020. 

<13> Solar Schools. Radiant Energy. Https:// Accessed November 15, 2020.

<14> CK-12. Chemical Potential Energy. Https:// Accessed November 15, 2020.

<15> Solar Schools. Gravitational Energy. Https:// Accessed November 15, 2020.

<16> Hyperphysics. Gravitational Potential Energy. Http:// Accessed November 16, 2020. 

<17> Kinetic & Potential Energy. Kinetic & Potential energy – net Formulas. Https:// Accessed November 9, 2020.