A collision occurs when two objects come in direct contact. It is the event in which two or more bodies exert forces on each other in about a relatively short time. There are two types of collisions, namely:
An elastic collision is one where there is no net loss in kinetic energy in the system due to the collision.
An inelastic collision is a type of collision where this is a loss of kinetic energy. The lost kinetic energy is transformed into thermal energy, sound energy, and material deformation.
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What Is an Elastic Collision?
When two bodies collide but there is no loss in the overall kinetic energy, it is called a perfectly elastic collision.
Elastic Collision Definition:
An elastic collision is a collision in which there is no net loss in kinetic energy in the system due to the collision. Both momentum and kinetic energy are conserved in an elastic collision.
Basically in the case of elastic collision, the kinetic energy before and after the collision remains the same and is not converted to any other form of energy.
It can be either one-dimensional or two-dimensional. In the real world, perfectly elastic collision is impossible because there is bound to be some energy conversion, however small.
However, though there is no change in the linear momentum of the whole system, there is a change in the individual momenta of the involved components, which are equal and opposite in magnitude and cancel each other out and the initial energy is conserved.
Elastic Collision Examples
- When a ball at a billiard table hits another ball, it is an example of elastic collision.
- When you throw a ball on the ground and it bounces back to your hand, there is no net change in the kinetic energy, and hence, it is an elastic collision.
Read More: Kinetic Energy
Watch the video and learn more about collision
Elastic Collision Formula
The Elastic Collision formula of momentum is given by:
m1u1 + m2u2 = m1v1 + m2v2
- m1 = Mass of 1st body
- m2 = Mass of 2nd body
- u1 =Initial velocity of 1st body
- u2 = Initial velocity of the second body
- v1 = Final velocity of the first body
- v2 = Final velocity of the second body
The Elastic Collision formula of kinetic energy is given by:
(1/2) m1u12 + (1/2) m2u22 = (1/2) m1v12 + (1/2) m2v22
Elastic Collision Example Problem
Two billiard balls collide. Ball 1 moves with a velocity of 6 m/s, and ball 2 is at rest. After the collision, ball 1 comes to a complete stop. What is the velocity of ball 2 after the collision? Is this collision elastic or inelastic? The mass of each ball is 0.20 kg.
To find the velocity of ball 2, use a momentum table.
|Objects||Momentum Before||Momentum After|
|Ball 1||0.20 kg × 6 m/s = 1.2||0|
|Ball 2||0||0.20 kg × v2|
|Total||1.2 kg × m/s||0.20 kg × v2|
1.2 kg × m/s = 0.20 kg × v2
v2 =1.2 / 0.20 = 6 m/s
To determine whether the collision is elastic or inelastic, calculate the total kinetic energy of the system both before and after the collision.
|Objects||KE Before (J)||KE After (J)|
|Ball 1||0.50 × 0.20 × 62 = 3.6||0|
|Ball 2||0||0.50 × 0.20 × 62 = 3.6|
Since the kinetic energy before the collision equals the kinetic energy after the collision (kinetic energy is conserved), this is an elastic collision.
Watch the video and learn about important problems in elastic collisions
Difference between Elastic and Inelastic Collision
Some key differences between inelastic and elastic collisions are given below in tabular format.
|The total kinetic energy is conserved.||The total kinetic energy of the bodies at the beginning and the end of the collision is different.|
|Momentum is conserved.||Momentum is conserved.|
|No conversion of energy takes place.||Kinetic energy is changed into other energy such as sound or heat energy.|
|Highly unlikely in the real world as there is almost always a change in energy.||This is the normal form of collision in the real world.|
|An example of this can be swinging balls or a spacecraft flying near a planet but not getting affected by its gravity in the end.||An example of an inelastic collision can be the collision of two cars.|
Applications of Elastic Collision
- The collision time affects the amount of force an object experiences during a collision. The greater the collision time, the smaller the force acting upon the object. Thus, to maximize the force experienced by an object during a collision, the collision time must be decreased.
- Likewise, the collision time must be increased to minimise the force. There are several real-world applications of these phenomena. The airbags in automobiles increase the collapse time and minimize the effect of force on objects during a collision. Airbag accomplishes this by extending the time required to stop the momentum of the passenger and the driver.
Watch the video to learn about Coefficient-of-Restitution
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
What is Elastic Collision?
Does Elastic Collision conserve momentum?
What is an example of an elastic collision?
What is the difference between elastic and inelastic collision?
What are the applications of the elastic collision?
What is inelastic collision?
State the law of conservation of linear momentum.
Write some applications of conservation of linear momentum.
What is elastic potential energy?
What is contact force?
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