Inelastic Collision

Definition - What does Inelastic Collision mean?

An inelastic collision is a situation that occurs when there is a collision between two or more objects and the final kinetic energy of the objects is less than the initial kinetic energy. It can be noted that some of the kinetic energy gets turned into vibrational energy of atoms and results in a heating effect and thus the bodies are deformed. There may not be any conservation of the kinetic energy during such collision but they obey the conservation of the momentum. A perfect inelastic collision takes place when the maximum kinetic energy of the system is lost.

Petropedia explains Inelastic Collision

When there is a collision between two or more objects and there is no conservation of kinetic energy due to the action of internal friction in the collision, the collision is said to be an inelastic collision. The momentum is conserved as the momentum of the objects involved remains same. The kinetic energy that is lost in the collision appears as sound, heat or light energy.

Macroscopic collision is mostly inelastic collision. If we drop a ball on the ground from a certain height and it does not rise back to its original height; this shows that the ball has lost some of its kinetic energy. This collision of the ball and the ground is said to be an Inelastic collision. In this type of collision, objects are expected to stick together after they collide.

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