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Centrifugation: Capacity, Control and Care

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Accelerating the R&D process is a key priority for many businesses around the world and research labs are increasingly under pressure to process more samples more quickly. As such, the capacity of centrifuges – the parameter that dictates the volume and number of samples that can be spun - is a key consideration for users, particularly for high throughput applications. However, of equal note is the vast amount of energy that goes into establishing and maintaining the correct temperature to ensure sample security during centrifugation. The result is the need for centrifuges that are as energy efficient as possible, with optimal capacity.

Eppendorf has recently introduced the new Centrifuge 5920 R, an ergonomically designed centrifuge which combines large capacity with energy efficient operation, and gives the user greater control over their runs. We spoke to Stephen Dey, Marketing Director of Eppendorf UK, to learn more about some of the features and benefits of the new centrifuge.

AB: Can you describe some of the features that make the new centrifuge suitable for high throughput applications?

SD: The primary feature that makes the new Centrifuge 5920 R suitable for high throughput applications is the capacity that it offers. It enables users to process samples in large volumes and quantities; for example, it can spin up to 52 x 50mL conical tubes, or 108 x 15mL conical tubes, in any one run. The Centrifuge 5920 R is an ergonomically designed benchtop centrifuge with a ground-breaking compact footprint, the smallest of any true 4 litre centrifuge, which offers the same, if not greater capacity, as a floor-standing centrifuge.

For high throughput applications, as with any other, we also understand that sample security is of prime importance. The Centrifuge 5920 R includes Dynamic Compressor Control (DCC) technology offering more precise regulation of temperature around the set point, minimising variation and keeping samples safe (Figure 1) - something that is more difficult to achieve with analogue control. More information can be found on our website www.eppendorf.com/centrifugation

Figure 1.jpg
Figure 1: Measured rotor chamber temperature with 4 x 750mL swing-bucket rotor at maximum speed, fully loaded with 50mL conical tubes. Temperature set to 4°C. When compared to ‘Competitor A’, Eppendorf’s Centrifuge 5920 R with dynamic compressor control ensures a much more precise and stable temperature is maintained throughout the measurement cycle. 

AB: The FastTemp pro® and ECO shut-off functions increase energy efficiency of the Centrifuge 5920 R. How important are environmental considerations to the modern lab?

SD: While it depends on the particular laboratory that you are speaking to, for the majority of modern laboratories in the UK energy efficiency is a key consideration for any purchase, particularly for those instruments that are power hungry. This is largely driven by organisations’ power usage policies, which combine concerns about carbon footprint with a desire to reduce energy consumption costs.

The FastTemp Pro® function means the Centrifuge 5920 R can go from an ambient temperature to a set temperature much quicker, and produce the right level of ventilation to enable the compressor to cool more rapidly. It can also be pre-programmed to kick in at a set time, meaning the compressor does not need to be left running and using up energy all day long.

Equally the ECO shut-off function conserves energy by powering down the machine following an extended period of non-use. This is a valuable feature, particularly in a busy lab environment where things can often be left running unnecessarily.

AB: Proper centrifuge maintenance is vital to ensure the safety and longevity of an instrument. Can you share any tips for caring for a centrifuge such as the 5920 R?

SD: The Centrifuge 5920 R is very robust, but there are easy steps that lab users can follow to maintain their performance and prolong the life of an instrument. It is often the case that these machines are open access and are likely to have multiple users; therefore, it is important that anyone who comes into contact with the instrument takes a level of responsibility for its maintenance.

Some tips for day-to-day operation include:-

>Ensure the rotor bowl is clean
>Check for any build up of condensation
>Periodically remove the rotor, and re-grease the spindle as per instructions
>Conduct a visual check of the machine to identify any damage to parts through day-to-day use, paying particular attention to caps and seals, rotors and buckets.

If you are unsure about any damage you identify, the centrifuge/part should always be checked by a qualified person. Eppendorf provides a full range of preventative maintenance and service options for all its instruments to ensure their longevity. 

AB: The brochure highlights the PhysioCare Concept® - can you tell us a little more about this concept and how it applies to the 5920 R?

SD: The PhysioCare Concept® is all about understanding how the user interacts with the machine. It is vital that we take into account the different ways in which individuals work, and ultimately deliver an ergonomically designed instrument that helps rather than hinders their workflows.

For example, the Centrifuge 5920 R is low profile in comparison to other centrifuges on the market, making it easy to operate for all end users. The lid is easily accessible and requires little pressure to be closed, and buckets can be reached with ease when they need to be changed.

Fundamentally, using a machine should not be difficult either physically or technically, and the PhysioCare Concept® addresses this, not only for the Centrifuge 5920 R, but across all of our products.

Stephen Dey was speaking to Ashley Board, Managing Editor at Technology Networks.