Lab vacuum pumps are equipment used to create a vacuum within closed containers by eliminating air from the closed system. These pumps achieve this feat through suction, reducing the air density in the selected space, creating a vacuum. There are four most used types of lab vacuum pumps: the scroll vacuum pump, rotary vane vacuum pump, diaphragm vacuum pump, and the combination vacuum pump (two vacuum pumps rolled into one).
Each of these lab vacuum pumps comes with its inherent features, uses, and benefits, as KNF USA can attest.
Here are the benefits and uses of lab vacuum pumps.
1. Diaphragm Vacuum Pumps
Diaphragm vacuum pumps function by using a flexible diaphragm that moves up and down, changing the volume of the chamber and creating a vacuum. The name comes from its rubber membrane, which enables the pump’s pumping action, similar to the human diaphragm.
Diaphragm vacuum pumps work well in lab experiments requiring a clean, oil-free vacuum. They are helpful in lab research due to their high precision, durability, low maintenance requirements, and reliability. Diaphragm vacuum pumps can be used in lab experiments where liquids are corrosive, highly viscous, high-pressure, or have relatively high solid content.
Most modern diaphragm pumps offer a maintenance interval of over 10,000 hours (about one year and six months), with repairs mostly in the gaskets and valve plates. This maintenance interval ensures longevity and less downtime when put in use. Also reassuring is that spare part kits are cheap and readily available, and no special skills are required to maintain them.
Diaphragm pumps are diverse and varied. They are, for example, efficient in making air pumps for filters in fish tanks and artificial hearts.
2. Scroll Vacuum Pump
The scroll vacuum pump employs two interleaving scrolls to pump, compress or pressurize liquids and gases during a lab experiment.
A vital benefit of a scroll vacuum pump is that it requires no oil, unlike most other lab vacuum pumps, as it is powered electrically. The absence of oil eliminates hydrocarbon contamination that may affect results in a lab setting. Also, scroll vacuum pumps are compact and do not require suspension by a spring. Their compactness makes them ideal for small enclosures like labs.
A scroll pump is versatile, manageable, and efficiently consumes energy.
3. Rotary Vane Vacuum Pump
The rotary vane vacuum pump, invented by Charles Barnes in 1874, has two or more chambers that compress and discharge gases and liquids. These chambers create a vacuum that pressurizes content, forcing them out through the pump’s outlet.
A rotary vane vacuum pump has many uses in and out of the lab. In a lab setting, it transports compressed and pressurized liquids and gases from one section of the lab to the next. It also proves helpful in dust extraction systems, lab furnaces, degassing, and distillation drying.
In the outside world, it has proven effective in water filtration, fountain drink dispenser, espresso machines, power steering, and air conditioning.
One of the benefits of the rotary vane vacuum pump is that it has a longer lifespan due to durable vanes. It also has optimized oil-water separation and low vibration and noise levels, making it easy to maintain and use in a lab setting.
4. Combination Vacuum Pump
As the name suggests, a combination vacuum pump integrates the functionalities of two other vacuum pumps: the diaphragm pump and the rotary vane pump. With this combination, a combination vacuum pump is versatile, low-maintenance, and superior to the diaphragm and rotary vane pumps.
Combination vacuum pumps thrive in lab environments involving acids and other harsh chemicals in labs. A key feature that enables combination vacuum pumps to thrive in a lab’s harsh environment includes a chemically resistant diaphragm pump which stops vapor from accumulating in the rotary vane pump and contaminating the oil. Due to this, the rotary vane can function as optimally as possible.
Besides their high functionality, combination vacuum pumps extend the oil life up to ten times longer than rotary vane pumps, saving on costs and downtime and extending the shelf life.
Combination vacuum pumps may have a higher price point compared to diaphragm pumps and rotary vane vacuum pumps, as they integrate the functionalities of both types of pumps. However, the exact price difference can vary depending on factors such as the manufacturer, model, and features. It is recommended to contact vacuum pump manufacturers or distributors for specific product pricing.
There are many benefits and uses of lab vacuum pumps. Each has its advantages and downsides, so when deciding which is the best, look at their functionality, cost, and of course, the role you want them to play in the lab.