Specific strength

Specific strength

The specific strength is a material strength divided by its density. It is expressed in newton metres per kilogram, and is used for tensile strength as for compressive strength. It is sometimes known as the strength-to-weight ratio. Materials with very high specific strengths are widely used in aerospace applications where weight savings are more important than material costs. Materials such a titanium alloys and carbon fiber are widely used in these applications for this reason.

Another way to quote specific strength is breaking length also known as self support length: the length of the material (in km) that could suspend its own weight (with a fixed cross-section). For this measurement, the definition of weight is the force of gravity at the earth's surface applying to the entire length of the material, not diminishing with height.


The data of this table is from best cases, and has been established for giving a rough figure.

pecific strength for construction of a Space elevator

A space elevator would need a material capable of sustaining 4,960 kilometers of its own weight "at sea level" to reach a geostationary altitude of 36,000 km without tapering. [ This 4,960 km "escape length" (calculated by Arthur C. Clarke in 1979) is much shorter than the actual distance spanned because centrifugal forces increase (and gravity decreases) dramatically with height: citeweb | url= http://www.islandone.org/LEOBiblio/CLARK2.HTM | title = The space elevator: 'thought experiment', or key to the universe?" | last = Clarke | first = A.C. | year = 1979 ] Individual carbon nanotubes have achieved this strength, however only on a microscopic scale to date. A lower specific strength can be usable however if the cable tapered down towards the Earth's surface and past the geostationary altitude, however the mass and costs of material would be prohibitive for low specific strengths such as provided by Kevlar.

ee also

* Space elevatorDEFAULTSORT:
* Specific Modulus


External links

* [http://www-materials.eng.cam.ac.uk/mpsite/interactive_charts/spec-spec/NS6Chart.html Specific stiffness - Specific strength] chart, University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering

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