UCSB Science Line
 What is the difference between elastic potential energy and other forms of potential energy? Question Date: 2016-01-19 Answer 1: Elastic potential energy is a specific type of potential energy that occurs when an elastic object, like a spring, is deformed. Elastic potential energy depends on how stiff the object is that you are stretching and how much it is stretched. One way to think of all types of potential energy is the energy an object can store based on the position of the object. There are two main types, elastic and gravitational. Let's look at a bow and arrow as an example. When the arrow is pulled back by an elastic cord, there is elastic potential energy stored in that cord that will be released when you let go of the cord, which will send the arrow. Compare this to a bow and arrow not in use, which has zero elastic potential energy because the cord is at rest and is not stretched. If the elastic cord on the bow is really stiff, it will have more elastic potential energy when pulled back, which explains why an arrow would go farther with a stiffer cord. If you pick up and arrow off the ground and hold it in your hand, the arrow has gravitational potential energy. Gravitational potential energy is potential energy due to vertical position (height) and the mass of the object. The arrow has zero gravitational potential energy on the ground but gains some when you pick it up. That energy would be transferred if you dropped the arrow and it fell to the ground. A more heavy arrow would have more potential energy at the same height, because gravitational potential energy depends on both the height and mass. Click Here to return to the search form.