How to Convert RPM to RCF


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.

Things You'll Need

  • Calculator
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Tips & Warnings

  • The RCF will vary along the length of a spinning test tube because the force is proportional to the length of the total arm; the force at the base of the test tube is greater than the force at the top of the tube.
  • Always measure the arm radius in the metric system, using millimeters, rather than in standard units per standard scientific practice.


  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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