Clearing factor

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):

The value of the clearing factor depends on the maximum angular velocity of a centrifuge (in rad/s) and the minimum and maximum radius of the rotor:

As the rotational speed of a centrifuge is usually specified in RPM, the following formula is often used for convenience:[1]

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.


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