Difference between Kinetic and Potential Energy, Conservation of Energy (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Difference between Kinetic and Potential Energy

About Energy

  • The capacity to do work is called as Energy.
  • Energy can be stored in different forms. It is one of the physical quantities as it is proportional to the mass of the object.
  • The ability of the body to exert a push or a pull against the natural forces like the gravity identifies as to what kind of energy is it.
  • The law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be destroyed but can only be transformed from one form into another.

About Potential Energy

  • The body is said to possess potential energy, when an object is at rest.
  • Potential energy tends to affect the object within the environment if and only when it gets transformed to other kinds of energy.
  • Potential energy is the energy possessed by a body by virtue of its position or state.
  • The formula for potential energy is:

  • A rock which rests at the top of cliff said to be an example of the body possessing potential energy.
  • The energy which is stored in a body because of the elevation is called as gravitational potential energy.

About Potential Energy

  • When the object is in motion, then it is said to possess kinetic energy.
  • When the rock falls, it possesses kinetic energy
    • Formula:
    • Unit: Joule
  • Some bodies like waterfalls contain both kinetic as well as potential energy.
  • The height of the waterfall is one of the basis for potential energy, while the movement of water is a base for the kinetic energy.
  • The property of body decides as to what kind of energy is contained in it. The Potential energy changes into kinetic energy when an object moves. Unlike the potential energy, the kinetic energy can be transferred from one body to another body by the process of collision.

Difference between Kinetic and Potential Energy

Difference between Kinetic and Potential Energy
Sr. noKinetic EnergyPotential Energy
1.Kinetic energy is the kind of energy present in a body due to the property of its motionPotential Energy is the type of energy present in a body due to the property of its state
2.It can be easily transferred from one body to anotherIt is not transferrable
3.The determining factors for kinetic energy are Speed or velocity and massHere, the determining factors are Height/distance and mass
4.Flowing water is one of the examples for kinetic energyWater present at the top of hill is an example of potential energy
5.It is relative with respect to natureIt is non-relative with respect to nature
6.Kinetic energy of an object is relative to other moving and stationary objects in its immediate environment.Potential energy is not relative to the environment of an object.
7.Speed/velocity and massHeight or distance and mass

A. Translational kinetic energy

B. Rotational kinetic energy


A. Elastic potential energy

B. Chemical potential energy

C. Electrical potential energy

D. Nuclear potential energy

E. Gravitational potential energy

Conservation of Energy

Conservation of Energy
  • It is important to understand that each form of energy does not exist separately but undergoes change from one to another without a net loss in energy.
  • As a projectile is launched into the air KE is at its maximum. As the projectile gainีšs altitude PE becomes greater than KE.
  • At the top of its arc, PE is at its maximum. The whole cycle reverses itself on the way down.
  • As you can see, the loss in KE is a gain in PE. Energy is not lost but conserved.

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