Difference Between Elastic and Inelastic Collision (With Table)

A collision occurs when there is direct contact between two objects/bodies. It is an act or occurrence of colliding or an encounter of the particles of different masses.

In this event, both bodies exert forces on each other. collisions are of two types; elastic collision and inelastic collision.

 Elastic vs Inelastic Collision

The main difference between Elastic and Inelastic Collision is that in the elastic collision, the kinetic energy remains intact throughout the collision, whereas, in the inelastic collision, the kinetic energy does not remain the same during the collision.

When a collision occurs, and the kinetic energy is not converted to any other forms of energy like heat or sound energy, then this type of collision is called an elastic collision. In the elastic collisions, momentum and kinetic energy are preserved. Also, the forces do not change into other forms and remain the same.

An inelastic collision happens when the kinetic energy changes to any other form of energy, and it changes into different forms of energy. The momentum is conserved, whereas the kinetic energy is not conserved. The forces during the collision change.

Comparison Table Between Elastic and Inelastic Collision

Parameters of ComparisonElastic CollisionInelastic collision
DefinitionIt is a type of collision in which the law of conservation of energy and momentum remains the same.It is a type of collision in which only the law of momentum is conserved.
Kinetic energy When a collision occurs and the kinetic energy is not converted to any other forms of energy like heat or sound energy, then this type of collision is called an elastic collision. In this type of collision, the total kinetic energy does not remain the same before and after the collision
HeatHeat is not produced in this collision.Heat is produced in this collision.
MomentumMomentum is conserved in this collision.Momentum is conserved in this collision.
Physical changeA physical change does not happen.deformation in the shape and size of the objects happens.
EnergyThe energy is never wasted.The energy is always wasted.
ExamplesTwo atoms colliding with each other exerts an elastic collision.In an accident between automobiles, the vehicles stop after the collision because of an inelastic collision.

 What is Elastic Collision?

An elastic collision happens when the form of energy remains the same throughout the collision. An elastic collision can be called an ideal collision.

The kinetic energy suffers no loss and is the same before and after the collision, and the conservation of energy and momentum is also valid.

The kinetic energy does not change into other forms of energy like light, heat, or sound energy.

In an elastic collision, the change of size and shape does not occur. No forms of energy are wasted.

This collision occurs in gas molecules or air molecules. It is can only happen to micro-particles.

This type of collision does not occur in our day-to-day life.

For example, when a ball is thrown on a floor and bounces back, this preserves momentum and kinetic energy.

What is Inelastic Collision?

An inelastic collision is a process in which the form of energy does not remain the same before and after the collision.

The kinetic energy does not remain the same before and after the collision, while the conservation of momentum happens.

The kinetic energy gets transferred to other forms of energy, like thermal energy or sound energy. In this process, heat is assembled.

In an inelastic collision, there is a deformation of the size and the shape of the body, and there is a waste of energy.

It mainly occurs in liquid and solids and is only justifiable for macro-objects.

This collision happens in our day-to-day life.

For example, when two trolleys collide with each other and get connected with each other because of magnets, they then become one connected mass. This is a type of inelastic collision because the kinetic energy gets changed, but the momentum is still conserved.

Main Differences Between Elastic and Inelastic Collision

  1. The elastic collision is the type of collision that occurs when the kinetic energy is not converted to any form of energy, whereas the inelastic collision is a type of collision that occurs when the kinetic energy is not preserved throughout the process.
  2. The objects have different velocities after the collision in the elastic collision, whereas after the collision in the inelastic collision, objects have the same velocity.
  3. In the elastic collision, the heat is not produced, whereas, in the inelastic collision, heat is produced.
  4. Inelastic collision, there is no form of deformation that occurs. There is no change in the size and the shape of the objects after the collision, whereas, in the inelastic collision, there is a deformation in the shape and the size of the bodies after the collision. 
  5. The energy/forces are never wasted in an elastic collision, whereas energy is always wasted in an inelastic collision.
  6. The forces are not changed in any other forms of energy in the elastic collision, whereas in an inelastic collision, the forces change into other forms of energy.
  7. The elastic collision happens in gas or air molecules, whereas the inelastic collision happens in liquids and solids.
  8. Elastic collision only happens in micro-particles, whereas inelastic collision happens in macro-particles.
  9. There is a conservation of the total kinetic energy and the momentum in the elastic collision before and after the collision, whereas, in an inelastic collision, the momentum is conserved, but the energy is not preserved.
  10. An example of elastic collision is the balls swinging, whereas an example of inelastic collision is a collision of automobiles.

Conclusion

Collisions are of two types, either elastic or inelastic.

When a collision occurs, and the kinetic energy is not converted to any other forms of energy like heat or sound energy, then this type of collision is called an elastic collision.

Inelastic collision happens when there is a change in the kinetic energy during the collision.

References

  1. tps://journals.aps.org/pr/abstract/10.1103/PhysRev.131.2115
  2. https://aapt.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1119/1.1285850

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