Energy Stores

Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be stored or transferred. There are different types of energy stores, including:

  • Thermal energy
  • Kinetic energy
  • Chemical energy
  • Electrical energy
  • Gravitational potential energy
  • Elastic potential energy
  • Magnetic energy
  • Nuclear energy
An apple tree representing potential energy, a falling apple representing kinetic energy, a nuclear fusion representing light aswell as a lightbulb.  battery with wires connected representing electric energy. A magnet representing magnetic energy and a bottle containing a blue liquid labelled chemical energy above a fire representing thermal energy.

Energy Stores

Thermal Energy

Thermal energy is stored in hot objects, which results from the movement of particles within a substance. As the temperature of the substance increases, so does the vibrational motion of its particles, leading to an increase in its thermal energy.

A hot liquid in a cup.

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy is stored in moving objects. Essentially, the faster an object moves, or the more massive it is, the greater the kinetic energy it possesses.

A car moving at a high speed.

Chemical Energy

Chemical energy is stored in the bonds of molecules in food and fuels. When these bonds are broken during chemical reactions, such as digestion or combustion, energy is released. This energy can be used for various tasks, such as powering our bodies or machines.

2 burgers next to burning wood.

Gravitational Potential Energy

Gravitational potential energy is the energy stored due to the position of an object in its gravitational field. This means the higher an object is above the ground, the greater the energy will be in its gravitational potential energy store.

For example, let’s look at a bookcase.

Multiple shelves of books.

The books that are higher on the bookshelf will have a higher store of gravitational potential energy than the books lower down on the shelves.

Elastic Potential Energy

Elastic potential energy is stored when exerting force to deform an elastic object. If we compress a spring, then it will have a large store of elastic potential energy. This energy will be stored until the spring is released.

A spring on a block of wood.

Electrical Energy

Electrical energy is energy resulting from electrically charged particles, such as electrons. This energy can be either potential or kinetic, depending on the circumstances.

When charged particles move through a wire, they produce an electric current. When these charges are in motion, such as in a current, they possess kinetic energy. On the other hand, when they’re stored and not moving but have the potential to do so, they possess potential energy.

Some objects have an accumulation of electric charges and create electrical fields, allowing them to exert forces on other charged objects.

A bunch of yellow wires connected to a piece of machinery.

Charged particles travelling through a wire result in an electric current.

Magnetic Energy

Magnetic energy is the energy stored within magnetic fields. These fields are created by magnetised objects or by the movement of electric charges, such as in an electric current. This energy can interact with other magnetic fields or magnetised objects, exerting forces upon them.

Just as with electrical energy, magnetic energy can be both potential, when two magnetised objects are positioned in a field but not moving. On the other hand, they can be kinetic when there’s movement in the field, such as when a magnet is moving towards a piece of metal.

A bar magnet attracting alot of iron filings.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is the energy stored in the nucleus, which is the core of an atom. It comes from the strong forces that hold the nucleus together. When the nuclei of certain atoms split (fission) or combine (fusion), a significant amount of energy is released, which can be harnessed for power.

A Nucleus with red circles representing protons and blue circles representing neutrons.

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