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How to calculate total strain energy

Tamara Wilhite

Total strain energy is the amount of strain required to deform an object. Strain energy is stored as potential energy inside the material being strained. Calculating the strain energy allows someone to determine how much energy is stored in the item and will be released when the force is lifted. "Solid Mechanics" by S. M. A. Kazimi defines the energy as the work done, which is the force applied times the distance divided by 2. However, calculating the total strain energy depends on the information one already has about the material and the forces it is under.


Strain energy measures how much energy is stored in the material released when pressure is lifted.

Step 1

Determine the prior size of the object's length before force was applied. Note this value as "l."

Step 2

Determine the area of the side of the object. Note this value as "A."

Step 3

Determine the force applied to the object if not already known.

Step 4

Square the value of the force. Multiply the squared force value by the length "l" found in Step 1. Save this value.

Step 5

Divide the value found in Step 4 by 2.

Step 6

Divide the value found in Step 5 by the area "A".

Step 7

Divide the value from Step 6 by Young's modulus of the material. This result is the total strain energy.