 Using the Shell Method to Find the Volume of a Solid of Revolution - dummies

Using the Shell Method to Find the Volume of a Solid of Revolution

The shell method is useful when you’re measuring a volume of revolution around the y-axis. For example, suppose that you want to measure the volume of the solid shown in this figure. Here’s how the shell method can give you a solution:

1. Find an expression that represents the area of a random shell of the solid (in terms of x).

Remember that each shell is a rectangle with two different sides: One side is the height of the function at x — that is, cos x. The other is the circumference of the solid at x — that is, 2πx. So to find the area of a shell, multiply these two numbers together:

A = 2πx cos x

2. Use this expression to build a definite integral (in terms of dx) that represents the volume of the solid.

In this case, remember that you’re adding up all the shells from the center (at x = 0) to the outer edge 3. Evaluate the integral.

This integral is pretty easy to solve using integration by parts: Now evaluate this expression: So the volume of the solid is approximately 0.5708 cubic units.