# Potential Energy

JoVE Core
Mechanical Engineering
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JoVE Core Mechanical Engineering
Potential Energy

### Nächstes Video11.9: Potential-Energy Criterion for Equilibrium

Potential energy is the ability of a body to do work due to its position.

The gravitational potential energy change is the negative of the work done on a body by force, equal and opposite to its weight, in bringing the body to a specific position from a reference position or datum where the gravitational potential energy is considered zero.

On lifting a body, the work done by the gravitational force is negative, and so its potential energy increases. On moving the body downward, the reverse is observed.

Elastic potential energy is the negative of the work done due to the restoring force generated in a deformed elastic body that tries to restore its undeformed position.

For a compressed spring, the change in the elastic potential energy is positive, while the work done by the spring force on the mass is negative. The same is observed when the spring is stretched from an undeformed position.

If both gravitational and elastic forces act on a body, the potential energy is the sum of both energies.

## Potential Energy

A conservative force, such as a gravitational or elastic force, gives the body the capacity to do work. This capacity, measured as the potential energy, depends on the body's location or “position” relative to a fixed reference position or datum. The gravitational potential energy is considered zero at the reference point. Suppose a body is located at some vertical distance above a fixed horizontal reference or datum. In that case, the weight of the body has positive gravitational potential energy since it has the capacity to do positive work when the body is moved back down to the datum. Likewise, if the body is located at a vertical distance below the datum, the gravitational potential energy is negative since the weight does negative work when the body is moved back up to the datum.

If the height is taken as zero at the datum and the vertical upward distance is considered positive, then at some height above the datum plane, the gravitational potential energy is expressed as the product of the weight of the body and its height from the datum plane. Mathematically, this is expressed as follows:

If the body is at some distance below the datum plane, its gravitational potential energy becomes negative. Note that the datum plane for zero potential energy is arbitrary because it does not affect the change in the potential energy.

The work done on an elastic body is stored in the body in the form of elastic potential energy. This energy is available to do work on some other body while relieving its compression or extension. When a force compresses a spring, it causes a displacement x, which is directly proportional to the applied force. The elastic potential energy of the spring for a compression of x is the total work done on the spring and is expressed as follows:

When a spring is stretched, the force acts in the direction of the displacement, thus doing positive work on the spring and increasing its potential energy. The same is observed when a spring is compressed from an undeformed position.