How to quicken laboratory freeze drying procedures

The freeze drying process in the lab can be fun, but as with all common chemistry methods, the sooner it is done, the better. This post offers a few suggestions on how to make your lab freeze drying performance so fast that you might get a speeding ticket. Or at least you will be the envy of all your peers who are trying to get out of the laboratory and into the late summer sun as soon as possible.  

I was at the checkout line at my local grocery store the other day when a magazine cover caught my eye. It was one of those household magazines and this issue was featuring plenty of delicious 30-minute meal ideas.

I am clearly haunted by the topic of saving time. It has followed me from the sofa to the closet and now to the kitchen at home. In the lab, I’ve gone from optimizing some of favourite analytical techniques to save time in chromatography and laboratory evaporation. I am certain that I will only find peace with the issue of saving time if I also discuss another common method in the chemistry lab: laboratory freeze drying also known as lyophilisation.

Yes, it is possible to tweak your freeze drying procedure so that the lab work is finished faster.

Similarly to other techniques, a sure way to quicken laboratory lyophilisation is to optimize the process parameters. For example, try to increase the surface area of the frozen sample by either increasing the vial size or reducing the filling volume. Secondly, find a way to increase the energy supply for the sublimation process. One way to do this is to use a shelf that can be heated at elevated temperatures. Another tip for speeding up your workflow is to increase the pressure in the drying chamber to the maximal level allowed by sample temperature.

If possible, reduce your hands-on time at the instrument. Consider that a system with remote control options can free up your time for other tasks while the lyophilisation process is running in the background. Such a platform should offer features such as remote process start, data and  method handling. A monitoring app could be used to offer mobile process monitoring and to receive push notification of any error warnings.

Maintain a temperature difference of 15 – 20 °C between the ice condenser and frozen sample. Consistent ice condenser temperatures enable more efficient and quicker freeze drying. A system with powerful cooling systems can substantially decrease startup times to as little as five minutes, greatly speeding up the process.

If you are interested in more ways to quicken laboratory freeze drying runs, then

Now that I got all of these time saving tips off my chest, I can happily return to posting more about my favourite method and featured star of this blog, chromatography. Keep yourself unfrozen and don’t let your interest dry out by coming back to the blog for more.

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