Bulk Elastic Properties

The bulk elastic properties of a material determine how much it will compress under a given amount of external pressure. The ratio of the change in pressure to the fractional volume compression is called the bulk modulus of the material.

A representative value for the bulk modulus for steel is

and that for water is

The reciprocal of the bulk modulus is called the compressibility of the substance. The amount of compressionof solids and liquids isseen to be very small.

The bulk modulus of a solid influences the speed of sound and other mechanical waves in the material. It also is a factor in the amount of energy stored in solid material in the Earth's crust. This buildup of elastic energy can be released violently in an earthquake, so knowing bulk moduli for the Earth's crust materials is an important part of the study of earthquakes.

A common statement is that water is an incompressible fluid. This is not strictly true, as indicated by its finite bulk modulus, but the amount of compression is very small. At the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at a depth of about 4000 meters, the pressure is about 4 x 107 N/m2. Even under this enormous pressure, the fractional volume compression is only about 1.8% and that for steel would be only about 0.025%. So it is fair to say that water is nearly incompressible. Reference: Halliday, Resnick, Walker, 5th Ed. Extended.

Compressibility of Liquids
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Young's Modulus

For the description of the elastic properties of linear objects like wires, rods, columns which are either stretched or compressed, a convenient parameter is the ratio of the stress to the strain, a parameter called the Young's modulus of the material. Young's modulus can be used to predict the elongation or compression of an object as long as the stress is less than the yield strength of the material.


Elastic Properties of Selected Engineering Materials
Material
Density
(kg/m3)
Young's Modulus
109 N/m2
Ultimate Strength Su
106 N/m2
Yield Strength Sy
106 N/m2
Steela
7860
200
400
250
Aluminum
2710
70
110
95
Glass
2190
65
50b
...
Concretec
2320
30
40b
...
Woodd
525
13
50b
...
Bone
1900
9b
170b
...
Polystyrene
1050
3
48
...

a Structural steel (ASTM-A36), b In compression, c High strength, d Douglas fir
Data from Table 13-1, Halliday, Resnick, Walker, 5th Ed. Extended.
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