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MECA Electronics

Velocity of Sound in Various Media

The speed of sound in air is around 768 mi/hr (1,125 ft/sec, 343m/sec), or about 5 seconds per mile, or 3 seconds per kilometer. That is the reason for the rule of thumb where when you see a flash of lightning, count the number of seconds until you hear the thunder clap, then divide by five. That gives you the approximate distance (in miles) away of the lightning. Divide by three for kilometers.

The speed of sound in any medium is dependent upon the coefficient of stiffness (modulus of bulk elasticity for gas mediums). Density and/or compressibility alone does not determine the speed of sound.

    Vl = Velocity of plane longitudinal wave in bulk material.
   Vs = Velocity of plane transverse (shear) wave.
Vext = Velocity of longitudinal wave (extensional wave) in thin rods.
 
Solids
SubstanceDensity
(g/cm3)
Vl
(m/s)
Vs
(m/s)
Vext
(m/s)
Metals    
Aluminum, rolled2.7642030405000
Berylium1.8712890888012870
Brass (70 Cu, 30 Zn)8.6470021103480
Copper, annealed8.93476023253810
Copper, rolled8.93501022703750
Gold, hard-drawn19.7324012002030
Iron, Armco7.85596032405200
Lead, annealed11.421607001190
Lead, rolled11.419606901210
Molybdenum10.1625033505400
Monel metal8.90535027204400
Nickel (unmagnetized)8.85548029904800
Nickel8.9604030004900
Platinum21.4326017302800
Silver10.4365016102680
Steel, mild7.85596032355200
Steel, 347 Stainless7.9579031005000
Tin, rolled7.3332016702730
Titaninum4.5607031255080
Tungsten, annealed19.3522028904620
Tungsten Carbide13.8665539806220
Zinc, rolled7.1421024403850
Various    
Fused silica2.2596837645760
Glass, pyrex2.32564032805170
Glass, heavy silicate flint3.88398023803720
Lucite1.18268011001840
Nylon 6-61.11262010701800
Polyethylene0.901950540920
Polystyrene1.06235011202240
Rubber, butyl1.071830  
Rubber, gum0.951550  
Rubber neoprene1.331600  
Brick1.8  3650
Clay rock2.2  3480
Cork0.25  500
Marble2.6  3810
Paraffin0.9  1300
Tallow   390
Woods    
Ash, along the fiber   4670
Beech, along the fiber   3340
Elm, along the fiber   4120
Maple, along the fiber   4110
Oak, along the fiber   3850
Human Body Tissues    
Soft Tissue    


Liquids
SubstanceFormulaDensity
(g/cm3)
Velocity at 25°C
(m/s)
-δv/δt
(m/sec °C)
AcetoneC3H600.7911744.5
BenzeneC6H60.87012954.65
Carbon tetrachlorideCCl41.5959262.7
Castor oilC11H10O100.96914773.6
ChloroformCHCl31.499873.4
Ethanol amideC2H7NO1.01817243.4
Ethyl etherC4H10O0.7139854.87
Ethylene glycolC2H6O21.11316582.1
GlycerolC3H8O31.2619042.2
Kerosene 0.8113243.6
MercuryHg13.51450 
MethanolCH4O0.79111033.2
Turpentine 0.881255 
Water (distilled)H2O0.9981496.7-2.4


Gases and Vapors
SubstanceFormulaDensity
(g/l)
Velocity
(m/s)
δv/δt
(m/sec °C)
Gases    
Air, dry 1.293331.450.59
AmmoniaNH30.771415 
ArgonAr1.783319 (at 20°C)0.56
Carbon monoxideCO1.253380.6
Carbon dioxideCO21.9772590.4
ChlorineCL23.214206 
DeuteriumD2 8901.6
Ethane (10°C)C2H61.356308 
EthyleneC2H41.260317 
HeliumHe0.1789650.8
HydrogenH20.089912842.2
Hydrogen chlorideHCl1.639296 
MethaneCH40.7168430 
NeonNe0.9004350.8
Nitric oxide (10°C)NO1.34324 
NitrogenN21.2513340.6
Nitrous oxideN2O1.9772630.5
OxygenO21.4293160.56
Sulfur dioxideSO22.9272130.47
Vapors    
AcetoneC3H6O 2390.32

Benzene

 

C6H6 2020.3
Carbon tetrachlorideCCl4 145 
ChloroformCHCl3 1710.24
EthanolC2H6O 2690.4
Ethyl etherC4H10O 2060.3
MethanolCH4O 3350.46
Water vapor (134°C)H2O 4940.46

Information from CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 7first Edition, 1990-1991, David R. Lide

Human Body Tissues
SubstanceVelocity at 25°C (m/s)
Soft Tissues1540
Brain1541
Liver1549
Kidney1561
Blood1570
Muscle1585
Lens of Eye1620
Skull Bone4080
Water1540


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