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Energy stores and transfers

Energy stores and transfers

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Explainer Video

Tutor: Signe Arias


Energy stores and transfers

In a nutshell

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transferred from one store to another. There are many different energy stores and four ways in which it can be transferred. You can use transfer diagrams to represent energy transfers.


Key work


Work done
Work done is the energy transferred to or from an object using force
A system is an object or several objects

Energy stores

Energy is the ability to do work and it can be stored and transferred. Energy can be stored in many ways, and the following are the stores you need to learn.

Energy Store



Energy stored when positive and negative charges attract or repel
Thunderstorms, nylon clothes, two balloons rubbed together
​Energy stored in the nucleus of an atom
Fusion in stars, fission reactions in nuclear power plants
​Moving objects have kinetic energy
Car, someone running, rolling a ball
Objects with a temperature above 0K0K​ (273 °C-273\ \degree C) have thermal (heat) energy​
Everything! Unless something has a temperature of 273 °C-273\ \degree C
Gravitational Potential
​When an object is in a gravitational field it has this energy store. The amount of energy stored depends on height, mass and strength of gravitational field
Skydiver, ball thrown in the air, car at the top of a ramp
Elastic Potential
​Energy stored when objects are squashed or stretched
Elastic band, spring, slinky
Energy stored between chemical bonds
Food, batteries, fire logs
Energy stored when poles attract or repel
Fridge magnets, compasses

Energy transfers

Energy can be transferred between the above stores in four different ways.

Energy Transfer



Energy transfers when a force is applied to an object
Pushing an object
Energy transfers when charge flows
Electricity in a wire
By heating
Energy transfers from a hot region to a cold region
Water being boiled on a stove
By radiation
Energy is transferred as a wave

Conservation of energy

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transferred from one store to another.

However, energy stores are not perfect, and some energy gets lost, for example, by heating. Therefore, the total energy put into a system is equal to useful energy and wasted energy combined.


Describe the energy stores and transfers for a toy car going down a ramp.

At the top of a ramp a toy car will have gravitational potential energy. This will be mechanically transferred to kinetic energy as the toy car goes down the ramp. Some energy will transfer into the surroundings in the form of sound or heat.

Energy transfer diagrams

Transfer diagrams can be used to represent energy transfers when energy values are unknown. This type of diagram uses rectangles to represent stores, and an arrow to show which energy transfer took place.


Draw an energy transfer diagram describing the chemical energy store transfer from your muscles to the kinetic energy in a bike when you are pushing it.   

chemical energy in musclesmechanicallyenergy transferredkinetic energy in bicycle\boxed{chemical \space energy \space in \space muscles} \xrightarrow[mechanically] {energy \space transferred} \boxed {kinetic \space energy \space in \space bicycle}​​

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What do energy transfer diagrams show?

What is the definition of conservation of energy?

What are the types of energy transfer?

What types of energy stores are there?


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