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Objectives, Principle and Applications of Centrifugation

In this machine, mixtures are separated based on size, density, viscosity, rotation speed, and the size and density of the mediums.


In this machine, mixtures are separated based on size, density, viscosity, rotation speed, and the size and density of the mediums.

Centrifuges are used in laboratories to separate biological compounds from crude extracts.. An intense force is produced perpendicular to the axis of rotation as a result of placing the specimen in a centrifuge. While different types of centrifuges are used for separating different molecules, all of them follow the same principles of sedimentation.

Centrifugation Process

Centrifuges are containers inside which two liquids or a mixture of liquids and solids are placed. When the container is turned at a high speed, the liquids are mixed together. Due to the high rotational speed of the components, centrifugal force separates the mixture into its components at high speeds. When liquids or solids with greater specific gravity are thrown into the water, they are thrown with greater force.

Relative Centrifugal Force

  • Rotors of various sizes and types are measured by relative centrifugal force.
  • When the rotor rotates, a force is exerted on its inner surface.
  • The sample is always applied in relation to gravity, and in a perpendicular direction to the surface.
  • This tool is useful for analyzing rotors of different centrifuges and determining the most suitable centrifuge for a specific task.

Centrifugation is affected by the following factors:

  • The speed of rotation
  • Viscosity/temperature
  • Density of both samples as well as solution
  • Displacement of particles distance

Objectives of Centrifugation

  • Separating immiscible liquids
  • Eliminate impurities in the supernatant fluid by purifying the substance.
  • This process separates crystallized drugs from their mother liquor.
  • To check if the suspensions and emulsions are creaming or sedimenting at an increased speed.

Principle of Centrifugation

  • If the density of a particle is greater than the density of the solvent, it sinks (sediment), but if it is lighter than the solvent, it floats.
  • As density differences increase, particles move faster. Whenever the density doesn't change (isopycnic conditions), the particles stay in motion.
  • Even if density differences are extremely small, centrifuges can be used to separate various particles from a solution due to their much more powerful "centrifugal force."
  • A centrifuge rotates an object about a fixed axis by applying a force that is parallel to the axis of rotation.
  • As a result of the centrifuge's centrifugal acceleration, substances and particles that are denser and move outward towards the radial direction are forced to move outward in the centrifuge.
  • Lower density objects are also removed from the center and displaced.
  • Radial acceleration in a laboratory centrifuge causes substances with higher densities to sink to the bottom while those with lower densities to rise.

Applications of Centrifugation

  • Using two miscible materials to separate them
  • A study of the hydrodynamics of macromolecules
  • Mammalian cell purification
  • Organelle fractionation (including membrane fractions/membrane fractionations) Fractionation of membrane vesicles
  • Separating water from chalk and making chalk powder
  • Making skimmed milk by removing fat from milk
  • A cyclonic separation method is used to remove particles from an airflow
  • The process of clarifying and stabilizing wine
  • Forensic and research laboratories separate urine and blood components
  • To separate proteins, methods such as ammonium sulfate precipitation or salting out can be used.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of pharmaguideline.com, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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