Edexcel International A Level Biology

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4.9 Core Practical 8: Determining the Tensile Strength of Plant Fibres

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Determining the Tensile Strength of Plant Fibres

  • The tensile strength of a fibre refers to the maximum load it can carry before breaking
    • For example, this information would be important when determining the strength of a rope made of plant fibres


  • Plant fibres
  • Retort stand (clamp stand)
  • Clamp
  • Weights


  1. The fibre should be attached to a clamp stand
  2. Attach a weight on the other end of the plant fibre
  3. Carefully continue to add one weight at a time until the fibre breaks
  4. Record the mass at which the fibre broke
  5. This represents the tensile strength
  6. To increase the accuracy of your results, this process should be repeated with more samples of the same plant fibre
    • These values can be used to calculate the mean tensile strength for the fibre
    • It is important to ensure that the fibres are all of the same length and that all other variables are kept constant


Apparatus used to determine the tensile strength of plant fibres

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Author: Marlene

Marlene graduated from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, in 2002 with a degree in Biodiversity and Ecology. After completing a PGCE (Postgraduate certificate in education) in 2003 she taught high school Biology for over 10 years at various schools across South Africa before returning to Stellenbosch University in 2014 to obtain an Honours degree in Biological Sciences. With over 16 years of teaching experience, of which the past 3 years were spent teaching IGCSE and A level Biology, Marlene is passionate about Biology and making it more approachable to her students.