Uses of Centrifuge

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Centrifuge refers to a device that uses its centrifugal force and separates all the components present in a fluid by spinning that particular fluid at a very high speed inside the container as this separates the fluids of various densities from its solid form. It generally works by creating a denser particle and substance that can move towards the centre in a rotational form. Also, the object which is less dense can be moved and thereby displaced to the centre of the machines. 

History of Centrifuges

Benjamin Robin was an English engineer in the military who, while serving for the nation, invented the famous arm apparatus that used to whirl to determine drag. Antonin Prandtl in 1864 proposed a unique idea to use this machine to separate the cream from the milk. The idea was immediately carried out by Alexander Prandtl (his brother) who made various other improvements to the designs to those established by his brother. Finally, he was successful in exhibiting a butterfat extraction device that could separate things in the year 1875.

Factors that Influence Centrifugation:

  • The density of both solution and sample

  • Viscosity/ Temperature

  • Distances present in particle displacements

  • Rotation speed

Application of Centrifuge

Centrifuges are mainly used to separate few unnecessary particles from a compound by rotating it inside a rotator device. The particles can be anything such as subcellular organelles, large molecules and other kinds of cells or particles. There are mainly two procedures for centrifuges. One of these is preparative which mainly isolates certain particles, and the other is analytical that refers to measuring all the physical properties of the particle that is in its sediment form. 

Due to the rotation that occurs in a centrifuge, a certain force is applied which is known as a centrifugal force to all the particles. This will sediment at a perfect rate that is proportional to the force that is applied to. The sedimentation rate of that particular particle is directly proportional to its size and is at a fixed liquid viscosity and centrifugal force that is also in a fixed state. 

A Schematic Diagram of a Centrifuge Machine

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Centrifuge Uses: An In-depth Analysis

The centrifuge has a variety of features in laboratories and industries areas. It is a technique that is used to separate the particles dissolved in any solution that is based on its shape, viscosity, size and density. Here in this particular technique, a force is applied to a solution that helps it to separate itself from the dense components from those with relatively low density. There are many more applications of centrifugation and they are mentioned below.

  • Centrifugation is used to separate a mixture that has two specific miscible liquids in it and both the liquids are different from each other. 

  • This particular technique is used in the study of macromolecules as well as analyzing their hydrodynamic properties. 

  • Mammalian cells are purified with its help and by using a specific kind of centrifuges. 

  • This kind of process also plays a vital role in the field of microbiology for treating various kinds of subcellular organelles. It is also effective and can be used to treat membranes.

  • It also plays an application in testing membrane vesicles.

  • A centrifuge is used to separate fine soluble substances from their solutions. Example - chalk from water. 

  • Skimmed milk is a unique form of milk and has the properties of low fats. Centrifugation is applied to separate the fat from the skimmed milk and leaving the skimmed milk alone in its fat form. 

  • Cyclonic separation is an important type of application and can be used to separate a few unwanted particles from the air.

  • Clarification and stabilization of wine is also an important application of centrifuge.

  • This particular technique, with the help of other purifying techniques, proves to be very helpful in separating proteins. Other techniques such as precipitation of ammonium sulfate are also some helpful applications of centrifuges.

  • It is a widely used technique in the field of forensic chemistry where this particular process is used to separate the important components from the blood samples. It is also used in various laboratories for separating urine from urine samples.

  • Centrifugal differentiation is a different and unique kind of centrifugation and is regarded to be applied in identifying organelles.

  • Commercial uses of centrifuge include using as a treatment for wastewater and processing the sewages. It is also used for removing metallic shavings from industrial lubricants.

Did You Know?

  • The centrifuge was invented by Antonin Prandtl in the year 1864.

  • Centrifuges are used by the astronauts in NASA to expose them to the high forces present. 

Centrifuges are an essential part of a laboratory; especially a genetics or molecular biology laboratory for without the use of it ultramicroscopic biomolecules cannot be separated from body fluids. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the uses of Centrifuges in Astronautical and Aeronautical Industries?

Ans: To test the tolerance power of the pilots and astronauts in extreme conditions where their bodies experience an acceleration that is higher than the gravitational force of the earth, they are put inside the human centrifuges. The human centrifuge was first discovered in the year 1933. This kind of centrifuge is designed to evaluate and help train the pilots and the astronauts to fly in extreme high conditions. Another vital application of centrifuges is stimulating the gravitational force applied to humans. This type of application is suitable for space. 

2. What do You Know about Centrifugation and What are Its types?

Centrifugation refers to the process that helps in separating the components of a fluid or liquid by using a centrifuge. It is done with the help of a rotating force where a bottle is rotated at extremely high speed and hence resulting in the separation of the liquids from the solid component.

There are two different types of centrifugal techniques. They are: 

  • Centrifugation of density gradients

  • Differential centrifugation

It is however possible that separation of density gradient can take place in isopycnic and rate-zonal centrifugation. Filtration and sedimentation are also types of centrifugation.