Who is your favorite member of the rotary evaporation family?

If you have had enough of your actual family members this holiday season, let’s talk about rotary evaporation family members instead! Do you have a favorite rotary evaporation instrument, just as you have a favorite uncle? And are you sure you shouldn’t give a member a chance if you really know how to use their strengths? Read on to find out.

This holiday season was a little bit better than the year before, because I had the opportunity to get together with family that I missed over last Christmas. It was lovely to see newborns, a few aunts and uncles and of course my immediate family members. And just like with any family gatherings, there were certain people I really enjoyed spending time with and some I tried to avoid, just because our personalities do not gel as well.

Now that the holidays are over, my thoughts are slowly drifting back to the lab. But I guess I am still in a family-mood because I started thinking about how our lab equipment can also be grouped into “families”. And just like a family of humans, a family of lab instruments will have some good and some poorer fits for yourself.

I think the rotary evaporation family can be a perfect example of this. We have the industrial evaporator as the big bulky uncle who is just like a rock and can help you with any heavy-duty job. We have the laboratory evaporator, the mother-head, certainly one of the most essential members needed for just about any task. We have the parallel evaporators, which are the quick energetic children, ready to get something done very quickly, but only smaller amounts at a time. And we have the glass ovens, the long-standing, experienced grandparents who can be entrusted with your most precious items but are by no means the fastest of the bunch.

I am certain that this mini description does not do your actual scientific applications enough justice, so I would like to spend a bit more time discussing the differences between the rotary evaporation family members in more detail.

The industrial evaporator – As the name implies, the industrial evaporator is the perfect system for larger volumes, in the 10 L to 50 L range , of one type of sample, including sunlight sensitive and foamy samples. Industrial evaporation is frequently used for solvent extraction and recycling and compound concentration on a large-scale. In particular, evaporation work in production, natural products and nutraceuticals, cannabis and even some bars and distilleries benefit from the Rotavapor®. I have a great free resource on how to get started with and how to optimize your industrial evaporation process for different applications if you want to find out more on the topic.

The laboratory evaporator – The most frequently used member of the rotary evaporation family is certainly the rotary evaporator. Often called the workhorse of the chemistry lab, the Rotavapor® is ideal for evaporation and distillation of mid-sized volumes from milliliters up to 5 L . Just like the industrial evaporator, lab evaporators can handle challenging sunlight-sensitive or foamy samples. Depending on the accessories, you can even evaporate multiple samples simultaneously. You can find the rotary evaporation systems in use at testing labs and R&D labs, as well as in bars, distilleries and molecular kitchens.

The parallel evaporators – These rotary evaporation family members are specifically designed to handle multiple samples. Although parallel evaporators are limited to sample volumes of 500 mL, they are particularly useful for applications where different samples types and controls must be treated under the same conditions. You can often find parallel evaporators in R&D labs and testing labs, where workers can save additional time by using programmable methods on their evaporation instruments.

The glass oven – Including the glass oven as a rotary evaporation family member is a bit of a cheat, since they do not necessarily spin. But they are an established method for drying your sample, especially if you have a small amount of precious sample.

But hey, just because you don’t like that quick-talking uncle or that slow and careful aunt does not mean everyone shares your opinion. They can be certainly great for getting a task done quickly or more cautiously depending on what is required. If you are interested in a more visual display of the rotary evaporation family, then download this free infographic on rotary evaporation. Meanwhile, How does your lab equipment compare to real-world personalities? Leave a comment below.

Till next time,

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