The 4 Types of Centrifuges

In a nutshell, a centrifuge can be defined as a device that uses the principles of centrifugal force and some gravity in order to separate particles in a solution based on their density, shape, viscosity of the solvent or just the amount of the centrifugal force applied through spinning. In order to get more about the working of the different types of centrifuges, I recommend that you check out our writing on how a centrifuge works.

If you could dig deeper into types of centrifuges, it would be clear that different scholars classify/group centrifuges in varied categories and this obviously could lead to a vast number of types of centrifuges. However, in this edition, after a careful analysis of the available centrifuges, we opted to group centrifuges into only 4 major types of centrifuges based on either their intended use of their rotor design. These are:

1. Small Bench Centrifuges

These types of centrifuges have a relatively small physical size with a maximum centrifugal field that varies between 3000g and 7000g. They are mainly used in the industry/experimentation to collect small amounts of solutes/ substance that easily sediment e.g. yeast.

2. Large Capacity Refrigerated Centrifuges

Unlike the Small Bench Centrifuges with small physical sizes, these types of centrifuges have an averagely bigger physical size. They are mainly characterized by internal refrigerated rotor chambers that can be changed to accommodate varying sizes. Often, their maximum centrifugal field is about 6500g. They are mainly used in the industry to rapidly collect sediments of substances like chloroplast, yeast cells, nuclei, among many others of the like nature.

3. High Speed Refrigerated Centrifuges

These types of centrifuges borrow most of their operation features from the large capacity centrifuges. Thus, they have a medium to large physical size and they contain internal refrigerated rotors like the above discussed type. Nevertheless, they have got a distinction on the amount of centrifugal force applied in the separation of substances. Whereas the large capacity centrifuges have a maximum centrifugal field of about 6,500, the high speed refrigerated centrifuges can stretch their centrifugal field to at most 60,000g. This enables them to separate minute solutes like small microorganisms, cell organelles, and cellular debris among others.

4. Ultra Centrifuges

These are used to distinctively isolate extremely minute solutes. They are often used by medics for advanced analysis. They are classified in two main subclasses, which are:

4.1 Preparative Centrifuges

They have an average centrifugal field of about 600,000g. Their internal chambers are evacuated, refrigerated and highly sealed. Their main use in the industry is to separate macromolecules and the separation of lipoproteins fractions.

4.2 Analytical Ultracentrifuges

These centrifuges have a centrifugal field of about 500,000g. They borrow most of their operations from the preparative centrifuges. Then again, they are added an extra feature of optical systems that enhance analysis. The optical systems aid to detect refractive indices of the solution to be separated. They are used to separate viruses, detect variations of infected cells, macromolecules among others.

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