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# What is elastic energy?

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Elastic energy is the potential energy stored in a material or physical system as the volume or shape is distorted. When objects are stretched or compressed, elastic energy is stored, according to the Physics Classroom.

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Reversibility is the key to how elastic energy is stored and released. When force is applied to an elastic material, energy is transferred into the material, and then by yielding that energy to the surroundings, the object can return to its original shape. All materials have a certain point at which the force is too great, causing the material to break or irreversibly altering its internal structure. Elastic energy is potential energy and is stored by changing the inter-atomic distances between nuclei.

Thermal energy is the randomized distribution of kinetic energy within a material, which can occur from twisting, bending or by applying other types of force that distorts the material's shape. Common devices that use elastic energy to work are rubber bands, bungee cords, trampolines, springs, and bows and arrows.

Springs are a special instance when compression is used to create and store elastic potential energy. The more compressed a spring is, the more force the spring exerts when it returns to original form. When a spring is not compressed or stretched, there is no elastic energy stored, and the spring is said to be at its equilibrium position. An object possesses elastic energy when it is at any position other than that of its equilibrium.

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## Related Questions

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Objects that are not moving have potential energy, which is converted to kinetic energy to enable motion, according to LiveScience. Potential energy becomes kinetic energy when work is performed on an object, such as pushing furniture across the floor.

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Solids maintain a definite shape and volume because their atoms are tightly bound to each other. Solids can be crystalline or amorphous. In crystalline solids, such as ice and metal, atoms are arranged in a regular geometric lattice. In amorphous solids, such as wax and many plastics, the arrangement is irregular.

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According to the U.S. Department of Energy, balls made of elastic materials such as rubber bounce because the material stretches and deforms when they hit a surface and then reform back into their original shapes, which releases energy into a kinetic form, causing the rubber ball to bounce.