Types of Centrifuges Used in Laboratories and Their Uses

Types of Centrifuges Used in Laboratories and Their Uses

Published on December 22, 2023

Types of Centrifuges Used in Laboratories and Their Uses

Centrifuges, despite their apparent simplicity, play an important role in many laboratory studies, helping scientists and researchers solve various problems and study the structure of various substances. The separation process using centrifuges is based on the efficient use of the ejection forces that occur when the device rotates. Different types of centrifuges are used depending on the specific task and the properties of the material being analyzed.

Let’s take a closer look at what types of centrifuges are most frequently used in laboratories and explore their functions in the course of research.

How do Different Types of Centrifuges Work?

The overall essence of the use of centrifuges in laboratories is their ability to accelerate scientific research and open up new possibilities for scientists in various fields. The accuracy and efficiency of these devices have become an important tool for achieving high results in modern science and technology. 

Before we start exploring different types of centrifuge in pharma, let’s take a closer look at the basic features you need to consider before buying:

  1. Body:
    1. Material: Typically, the centrifuge housing is made of metal or plastic to ensure strength and durability.
    2. Shape: A cylindrical or conical shape that allows for efficient sample movement.
  2. Rotor:
    1. Fixation: The rotor can be fixed or replaceable, depending on the user's needs and the type of centrifuge.
    2. Material: Usually made of metal or carbon fiber to ensure durability and low weight.
  3. Motor arrangement:
    1. Vertical or horizontal: Determines the rotor orientation and simplifies sample loading and selective access.
  4. Drive mechanism:
    1. Direct drive or with a gearbox: Affects the rotational speed and efficiency of the centrifuge.
  5. Cooling system:
    1. Active or passive: Some centrifuges have an active cooling system to handle temperature-sensitive samples.
  6. Safety:
    1. Safety sensors: Modern centrifuges are equipped with sensors that monitor for irregularities or interruptions in operation.
  7. Rotation speed:
    1. Adjustable or fixed: Allows the user to customize the speed to meet the requirements of a particular study.

1. Microcentrifuge

Microcentrifuges are one of the most common types of centrifuges, which finds its use in many laboratories. Usually designed to handle small volumes of liquid or solution, these devices are used to separate components with different densities. Their high rotational speeds allow for efficient particle separation, providing accurate and fast results.

The focus on small volumes of samples defines the sizes of a basic microcentrifuge. Usually, a tube between 0.2-5 ml in size is enough to conduct basic chemical separation in a laboratory.

2. Refrigerated Centrifuges

Refrigerated centrifuges are an advanced version of microcentrifuges that have an integrated cooling system. This makes them ideal for research where it is important to avoid rising sample temperatures. This is especially important in biochemical research, where the structure of biomolecules can be sensitive to heat.

Specialists realize that when working with some samples if you don’t keep the proper temperature conditions, you might lose many important properties of the substance including shape and mass. Thus, for some experiments, it’s necessary to have a tool that will keep a consistently low temperature.

3. High-Speed Refrigerated Centrifuges

High-speed centrifuges with cooling are another evolutionary step in this direction. Their ability to reach high rotational speeds allows them to separate particles even in large volumes while providing efficient cooling of the material under study. This feature is very useful when there’s a need to work with large-volume substances that need lower temperatures to sustain their properties. 

4. Ultracentrifuges

Ultracentrifuges go beyond conventional centrifuges and are used to separate very small particles, such as protein molecules or nucleic acids. These devices can typically spin at extremely high speeds, creating powerful forces that can expel particles in the smallest concentrations. Ultracentrifuges are important for high-precision research in genetics and molecular biology.

Author: Chemist EU

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