Suppose we take a spring and compress it in a clamp. There is a potential energy due to the compression of the spring. It is now placed into a bath of acid that will dissolve the spring but not the clamp. What happens to the potential energy?
In a realistic situation one (weak) point on the spring could break, so it would then just ping out of the clamp and lose the energy that way. But in the ideal scenario where it dissolves at a uniform rate, this wouldn't happen, so what happens at the instant that it is completely dissolved?
I thought maybe some kind of change of temperature would occur, due to the assumption that the compression would cause the atoms to be more tightly compacted causing a repulsion. As you remove layers this would gradually decrease, but there is still an inherent increase in energy for each atom, so this would most likely be expelled as something (like) heat.
I'm mainly interested in the detail of the mechanisms for the energy tranfers on an atomic level as opposed to the broad picture. Specifically the transfer from coulomb repulsion to heat in the acid. The more low-level detail the better.