All About Centrifuges
Centrifuges are becoming more necessary due to the pandemic. Many healthcare facilities, including labs, are looking to purchase their first or their next centrifuge to offset some of the testing burdens. Whatever the case, we want to help you get a better understanding of centrifuges. So in this post, we will look at what a centrifuge is, how it works, and the types. Let’s jump in!
What is a Centrifuge?
A centrifuge is a laboratory device that is typically used within medical practice and scientific settings to separate particles from a solution using a rotor. It is used to separate fluids, gas, and liquid of organelles, cells, and large molecules during a centrifugation process.
How Does a Centrifuge Work?
Although gravity does a fine job separating elements, it takes a long time, and that’s why we need centrifuges, as it does the work in minutes rather than waiting up to a day or more for the natural gravitational force. Essentially, a centrifuge uses the sedimentation principle. The sedimentation principle involves particles with a higher density than that of the solvent sinking (sediments), while the lighter particles float to the top. The gravitational force causes this separation to occur according to substance density.
Each centrifuge has a rotator that spins and produces a centrifugal force. This force then gets applied to each particle in the sample. This causes the particle to sediment based on the centrifugal force applied. How quickly the sedimentation principle occurs is also dependent on the consistency of the solution and the particles’ physical properties. Additionally, the particles move faster when there is a significant density difference, and when there is none or very little difference in density, the particles remain still within the sample.
In the end, the denser particles typically sink to the bottom, and the lighter ones remain on top, just as in the case of making juice with the fruit pulp. The pulp is heavier, so it sinks while the liquid stays on top. Also, in a blood sample with red blood cells and plasma combines, the centrifugation process will leave the red blood cells at the bottom and the plasma on top.
Types of Centrifuges
We’re looking at centrifuge types based on the number of samples (tubes) they can hold. Some centrifuges are designed for either 6, 12, or 24 tubes. The amount of tubes you need is dependent on the size of your facility and the number of samples processed daily. Small laboratory settings or medical facilities tend to opt for a 6 -tube centrifuge.
Stick around; in our next post, we’ll take a more in-depth look at these three centrifuges, their differences, and their special uses.
How a Centrifuge Works - Drucker Diagnostics. (2020, February 13). Drucker Diagnostics. https://druckerdiagnostics.com/knowledge/how-a-centrifuge-works/
Centrifugation Theory. (2021). Fishersci.se. https://www.fishersci.se/se/en/scientific-products/centrifuge-guide/centrifugation-theory.html
Laboratory Centrifuges | Biocompare. (2017). Biocompare.com. https://www.biocompare.com/Lab-Equipment/Laboratory-Centrifuges/
- Cecilia Arias