Forms of Energy

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What is Energy?

Energy is essential for the existence of all living organisms. We derive a large part of the energy from the sun; hence it is the biggest source of energy for us. The term “Energy” holds various meanings in our daily life, but in Science, it has a specific definition. The word “Energy” is derived from the Greek word “Energia” which means activity or operation. Energy is defined as a physical quantity that is transferred from one object to another to perform work or to heat the object. The S.I. unit of Energy is Joule (J), and it is a derived unit. It is named after the famous physicist James Prescott Joule. When one Newton of force is applied through one meter of distance, then it said that one Joule of energy is expended.

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Different Forms of Energy

Kinetic Energy and Potential Energy are the two main forms of energy which encompasses various other types of energy. Kinetic Energy and Potential Energy are collectively known as mechanical energy.

1. Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy (KE) is defined as the energy possessed by a moving body by virtue of its motion. Work must be done on the object to change its kinetic energy. The kinetic energy is expressed in the form of an equation as K.E = ½mvwhere ‘m’ denotes the mass of the object and ‘v’ denotes the velocity of the object. A running athlete, blowing wind, flying aircraft, etc. possesses kinetic energy. 

2. Potential Energy

Potential Energy (P.E) is defined as the energy which is stored by an object due to its position, relative to the other objects. The potential energy is expressed in the form of an equation as P.E = m*g*h where ‘m’ denotes the mass of the object, ‘g’ denotes the acceleration due to gravity and ‘h’ denotes the height in meters. When we wind a toy car or stretch a rubber band, potential energy gets stored in the toy car and the rubber band due to the work done on it. The energy remains stored as potential energy if it is not used to cause a change in the velocity of the object.


3. Mechanical Energy

Mechanical energy is defined as the energy associated with the motion and the position of the object. It can possess energy in the form of either potential energy or kinetic energy or both. Hence, mechanical energy is expressed as the sum of kinetic energy and potential energy.

M.E =  m*g*h + ½mv

4. Chemical Energy

Chemical Energy is defined as the energy stored within the bonds of a  chemical compound, i.e., the energy is stored between the atoms and molecules of the compound. It also refers to the ability of the chemical substances to undergo a chemical reaction to transform into other substances. The chemical energy is involved in the formation or destruction of chemical bonds, which is either absorbed or released from the chemical system.


5. Electrical Energy

Electrical Energy is defined as the energy that has been converted from electrical potential energy. An electrical circuit delivers this type of energy and it is a combination of electric current and electric potential. When the electrical potential energy is converted into another type of energy namely light, heat, or motion, it ceases to be electrical potential energy.


6. Nuclear Energy 

Nuclear Energy, also known as atomic energy, is defined as the energy that is released as a result of processes in which atomic nuclei (i.e., the core of the atom) are affected. There are two methods by which nuclear energy can be released. One is known as nuclear fission and the other one is known as nuclear fusion.


Did you know?

When an archer works on the bow and draws the string back in case of a bow and arrow, some of the chemical energy in the body of the archer is converted into elastic potential energy in the bent limb of the bow. The potential energy of the bow limbs gets converted into kinetic energy of the arrow when the string is released and the arrow takes flight. Hence, the force between the bow and string does work on the arrow when the string is released. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Renewable Energy?

Ans: Renewable energy is referred to as those energies that are gathered from renewable resources that are continuously replenished by nature upon consumption and usage. The renewable resources are either naturally reproduced or by a recurring process that occurs for a finite amount of time within the human time scale. There are seven types of renewable resources such as solar energy, wind energy, hydroelectric energy, biomass energy, hydrogen, and fuel cells, geothermal energy, and tidal energy. All these energy sources are replenished with time, hence they do not get depleted. They are 100% efficient and have several environmental and economical benefits too. 

2. What are Fossil Fuels? What are the Three Types of Fossil Fuels?

Ans: A fossil fuel is formed as a result of natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition (i.e., decomposition by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen) of dead buried organisms. These dead organisms contain organic compounds that are formed as a result of ancient photosynthesis and release energy upon combustion. Coal, petroleum, and natural gas are the three main types of fossil fuels. All fossil fuels contain carbon and are burned in the presence of oxygen to produce heat. The heat that is produced is directly used in home furnaces or is used to produce steam that drives generators which in turn produces electricity.