How to Convert RPM to RCF

By David Robinson
A centrifuge separates molecules within a solution.
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Centrifugation is a standard scientific process involving rotation. Revolutions per minute, or RPM, measures how frequently a rotor arm spins; however, the radius of the rotor also factors into the force exerted at the end of the rotor arm. To standardize the forces used on different centrifuges a different measurement, called relative centrifugal force (RCF), is used; this is calculated from the RPM and the radius of the rotor, and thus is a measurement independent of the equipment used.

Step 1

Determine the point in the test tube at which to calculate the RCF; measure the radius of the tube, in millimeters, at that point. Call this distance "r" and record it for later use.

Step 2

Substitute the values for rpm and r into the formula for Relative Centrifugal Force:

RCF = 1.12r (rpm/1,000)^2.

For example, with an rpm of 200 and an r value of 30, the formula becomes:

RCF = (1.12 x 30) x (200/1,000)^2.

Step 3

Reduce the equation to calculate the RCF value. Using the example in the previous step, the equation reduces to:

RCF = 33.6 x (0.2)^2

This further resolves to 1.1344. The resulting RCF is the rpm value converted to relative centrifugal force.