Elastic vs Inelastic Collision
Collisions are a very common phenomenon in nature. The collisions are categorized mainly by their energy conservation. Elastic collisions and inelastic collisions are the two types of collisions categorized by this energy conservation. The theories behind elastic and inelastic collisions play important roles in fields such as gas kinetics, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, mechanics and various other fields. It is vital to have a proper understanding in elastic collisions and inelastic collisions in order to excel in such fields. In this article, we are going to discuss what elastic collisions and inelastic collisions are, their definitions, under what conditions elastic collisions and inelastic collisions are observed, their applications, similarities between elastic collisions and inelastic collisions and finally the difference between elastic collisions and inelastic collisions.
What is Elastic Collision?
Elastic collisions are collisions that yield no net energy loss. The total kinetic energy of the particles before the collision is equal to the total kinetic energy of the particles after the collisions. In an elastic collision, no heat or sound is emitted. However, elastic collisions are not common in nature. Only near – elastic collisions occur in the natural world. But for most of the calculations concerning gas molecules and fluids, the collisions can be safely assumed to be elastic. In elastic collisions, any of the objects does not undergo any permanent deformations. But temporary deformations are present when the collision is taking place. The collision creates an impulse. An impulse is a relatively large force applied over a very small period of time. Elastic collisions also obey the conservation of momentum if the other conditions are satisfied.
What is Inelastic Collision?
Inelastic collisions are collisions that do not conserve internal energy. In an inelastic collision, the total kinetic energy of the particles before the collision is not equal to the total kinetic energy of the particles after the collision. The kinetic energy in an inelastic collision is released in the form of heat, sound or permanent deformations. Permanent deformations are common in inelastic collisions. Objects such as clay balls create highly inelastic collisions. The energy is released in the form of heat mostly in these collisions. Almost all the natural collisions are inelastic. Billiard (snooker) balls and ping pong balls show somewhat elastic collisions, but they too are inelastic. Even if the collision is inelastic if there are no external forces acting on the system (the forces are conservative) the system continues to obey the law of conservation of momentum.
What is the difference between Elastic Collision and Inelastic Collision?
• In elastic collisions, the total kinetic energy before the collision is equal to the total kinetic energy of the objects after the collision.
• Elastic collisions do not deform the objects permanently, but inelastic collisions can deform objects permanently.
• Elastic collisions do not create any heat or sound, but inelastic collisions always emit energy in some form.
• Elastic collisions are not present in nature, but inelastic collisions are present.