In centrifugation the clearing factor or k factor represents the relative pelleting efficiency of a given centrifuge rotor at maximum rotation speed. It can be used to estimate the time (in hours) required for sedimentation of a fraction with a known sedimentation coefficient (in svedbergs):
Centrifuge manufacturers usually specify the minimum, maximum and average radius of a rotor, as well as the factor of a centrifuge-rotor combination.
For runs with a rotational speed lower than the maximum rotor-speed, the factor has to be adjusted:
The K-factor is related to the sedimentation coefficient by the formula:
Where is the time to pellet a certain particle in hours. Since is a constant for a certain particle, this relationship can be used to interconvert between different rotors.
Where is the time to pellet in one rotor, and is the K-factor of that rotor. is the K-factor of the other rotor, and , the time to pellet in the other rotor, can be calculated. In this manner, one does not need access to the exact rotor cited in a protocol, as long as the K-factor can be calculated. Many online calculators are available to perform the calculations for common rotors.