For nearly five decades, a friction reduction system (FRS) has been used by Beckman Coulter in its high-speed centrifuges. Implementation of the Beckman Coulter FRS improved on the capacity and efficiency of traditional high-speed centrifuges.
This system enables Beckman Coulter to use rotors with higher centrifugal forces and capacities, faster acceleration, extended centrifuge drive life, improved temperature control and lower operating costs.
This article discusses the benefits of the FRS and the improved performance of Beckman Coulter high-performance centrifuges when using this system, particularly the new Avanti JXN (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Avanti JXN-26 Centrifuge
A powerful vacuum pump that draws air from the centrifuge chamber is the key component of the FRS, lowering the chamber to one-fourth of atmospheric pressure, while the rotor is running (Figure 2). The FRS decreases the workload of the drive and refrigeration systems, thereby increasing total centrifuge reliability.
Also, the inherent drag or friction in a rotating system is significantly reduced by the elimination of partial atmosphere from the chamber, which lowers the generation of heat and provides a drive system that is more energy efficient.
Figure 2. The FRS of the Avanti JXN uses an external vacuum pump to reduce chamber pressure, filtering air from the centrifuge to the lab, all while the rotor is spinning.
Increased centrifugal acceleration
Maximum acceleration in a centrifuge is influenced by various factors, such as the motor power, the rotor weight and geometry and the frictional drag caused by rotor mechanics and wind resistance.
The friction resulting from atmospheric resistance is reduced when the FRS is used, which increases centrifugal acceleration. Consequently, the centrifuge can increase and maintain optimum speed more easily.
Improved temperature control
Using the reduced frictional system, temperature control can be improved for rotors with large surface areas such as those in the high-performance line. A typical rotor, the JA-14.50, is considered here, to demonstrate the benefits of the FRS.
The surface speed of the rotor is approximately 845kmph or 525mph at the point in the tube cavity farthest from the axis of rotation (rmax) when the rotor is running at its maximum speed of 14,000rpm. At these high speeds, a large amount of friction is created under atmospheric pressure, causing great amounts of heat to be generated.
A reduced chamber atmosphere lowers friction caused by wind resistance. It is very difficult for a centrifuge to offset large temperature fluctuations, making it challenging to maintain a constant temperature in a centrifuge that does not have an FRS. Larger compressors that consume more energy are also required.
Extending the life of the centrifuge
Beckman Coulter centrifuges are designed to last. The durability is improved by the FRS providing a reduced chamber atmosphere, which reduces strain on the refrigeration compressor, the drive train, and the rotor itself.
Greater energy efficiency
The Avanti JXN centrifuge runs at around one-quarter atmosphere, further lowering frictional heat and wind resistance. It can achieve the one-quarter atmosphere operation pressure while the rotor is reaching the set speed.
Once the appropriate pressure is achieved in the chamber, the vacuum pump shuts off. The FRS then runs as a “smart system,” where the vacuum pump only starts when losses in the system mean additional vacuum is required. This enables valuable savings on energy costs, while also improving temperature control.
Reduced operating costs
Beckman Coulter centrifuge/rotor systems equipped with the FRS decreases laboratory costs by increasing the life of the centrifuge and optimizing energy efficiency. Owing to the reduced frictional air drag on the running rotor, the centrifuge can reach and maintain the maximum speed more easily.
In addition, less energy is needed for the refrigeration compressor to reach and maintain the set temperature within the rotor chamber, giving rise to a cooler and more efficient instrument. Laboratories usually contain many freezers, refrigerators and other instruments that produce excess heat.
This reduced heat output helps to maintain an ambient lab environment more easily and cost effectively. This, together with the extended life of the machine, reduces the laboratory’s environmental footprint and lowers overall expenses.
Improved lab safety is another key advantage of using the FRS in Beckman Coulter centrifuges. Most researchers handle radioactive or biologically hazardous samples. The partial vacuum in the centrifuge chamber provided by the FRS means a pharmaceutical-grade sterilizing filter system can be installed between the vacuum pump and the rotor chamber of the Avanti JXN.
Particles such as pathogens and aerosols that are released during a bottle or tube failure can be removed using this filter. This ensures the safety of lab operators by helping to prevent sample vapors from entering the lab atmosphere.
Also, the mechanical safety is increased by the FRS because it allows wind resistance to be used as a parameter for checking the safety and compatibility of the rotor. This check would be difficult with undefined rotor chamber pressure, causing rotor failure and potentially significant damage and injuries.
Use of the FRS in the Beckman Coulter Avanti JXN centrifuge offers a number of design advantages such as increased rotor speed, tube capacities and rotor volumes, as well as precise temperature control.
In addition, the FRS lowers the load on the refrigeration and drive, therefore improving the overall reliability of the system. The removal of air from the rotor chamber enables integration of the optional pharmaceutical-grade sterilizing filter system for enhanced safety.
In summary, the FRS improves centrifuge performance and safety, making the Avanti JXN a high-performance and very sophisticated instrument.
Produced from content authored by Chad Schwartz, Ph. D., Application Scientist, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, Indianapolis, IN USA.
About Beckman Coulter
Beckman Coulter develops, manufactures and markets products that simplify, automate and innovate complex biomedical tests. More than a quarter of a million Beckman Coulter instruments operate in laboratories around the world, supplying critical information for improving patient health and reducing the cost of care.
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