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Just assume a case in which we have a spring with the spring constant '$K$' and made up of iron or steel and if we compress it with some distance '$x$' Then the potential energy stored in it will be like:-

$U = \frac{1}{2} Kx^2$

And kept just like that for an infinite amount time and with time this spring is going to be rusted and then after that when we will release this spring then it's not going to come back to its original mean position so my question is where did the potential energy stored in it go? According to the energy conservation there might be something which is taking that energy up or getting converted into some other kind of energy. if not, then the potential energy of the spring should be stored in it forever but this doesn't happens.

Edit:- this is not equal to the case when the compressed spring is immersed in some acid because the spring will get immediately dissolved in the acid and that energy might get converted into some other form and in this case the spring is still there and my question is regarding this

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You can have energy resident in a material as stress even if the material does not behave elastically. A good example is tempered glass, which contains deliberately created stresses whose energy will not be released unless it is cracked. So a spring rusted solid would still contain the potential energy, it is just not released instantly if the thing keeping it compressed disappears.

However, I would assume the corrosion is likely to cause other forms of failure. Flakes would fall off, atoms move around in respond to chemical and mechanical forces, and so on. I would not be surprised if the spring simply cracked and broke at some point, the pieces elongating and releasing the energy as sound and vibration.

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  • $\begingroup$ This might be the answer to my question! $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 16:13

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