Whirlwind of Warmth: Temperature Control in Microcentrifuges

Temperature control in ventilated and refrigerated microcentrifuges

Microcentrifuges are small but power-hungry machines. The operation of a microcentrifuge involves significant energy input, primarily due to its high-speed motor and rotor. Almost all the energy is transformed into heat via friction, typically generating 200-300W of heat. This amount of heat generation can become problematic due to the very small volume of microcentrifuges, making it difficult to remove the heat and stabilise the temperature. Particularly in biological applications where the majority of samples are temperature-sensitive, causing proteins to denature, nucleic acids degrade, and other detrimental effects on biological samples. This is especially concerning in experiments where maintaining a specific temperature range is vital for the validity of the results (which is most biological experiments). Thus, managing and mitigating heat generation is critical to microcentrifuge design and operation. 

Loading Microcentrifuge

Ventilated Microcentrifuges: Balancing Speed and Value

Ventilated microcentrifuges are designed for speed and value, encapsulating the power and precision critical to various laboratory applications. Energy input and heat generation are significant, and engineers create large ventilation channels that allow vast air exchanges per minute to dissipate this heat to the lab. However, not all this heat can be removed, and after a typical 10-minute run, the rotor's temperature will typically be ambient + 15°C up to +20°C! So even for a precisely air-conditioned lab, this means a shockingly high sample temperature of up to +40°C! I am expecting that this information will surprise many scientists.

However, as there is no temperature control, there can be significant variations in temperature between the first run of the day (when all components are at room temperature and at the end of the day when all the components, motor and rotor, are already hot. Which means reproducibility between runs must be questioned.

Microcentrifuge whirlwind of warmth


Refrigerated Microcentrifuges: Precision Cooling for Reproducibility

Refrigerated microcentrifuges have been meticulously engineered to mitigate the heat generated during high-speed centrifugation. At the heart of these machines are powerful and sophisticated cooling systems that maintain a precise predetermined temperature throughout a centrifugation cycle, which is usually 4°C. 

Refrigerated Microcentrifuges can statically cool to -10°C to -20°C; however, at full speed, this usually means they can control and maintain +4°C and, therefore, able to maintain as much biological activity as possible, mitigating the risks associated with heat-sensitive materials such as proteins or nucleic acids. These biomolecules could denature or degrade if exposed to heat for too long; thus, maintaining a consistently low temperature ensures their stability during processing. Hence, refrigerated microcentrifuge are the choice where temperature control is paramount. 

Microcentrifuge Temperature Infographic


In scientific history, ventilated and refrigerated microcentrifuges have been pivotal in scientific discovery, especially within molecular biology, and are the stalwarts of laboratories worldwide, with 10,000's being sold yearly.. 

Ventilated microcentrifuges, known for their cost-effectiveness and impressive rotational speed, have proven invaluable to many scientists. However, as speeds have increased, so have the sample temperatures, which have risen to levels many scientists would be uncomfortable with.

Therefore, the mix between ventilated and refrigerated models has been steadily growing towards the benefits of the refrigerated models. Their rapid cooling  facilitates biological activity and ensures accurate reproducibility (The latest Haier Refrigerated Microcentrifuges can cool in under 5 minutes). By accurately maintaining specific temperatures over extended periods, they reassure scientists that they will have reproducibility and keep as much physical activity/structure as possible. 

Indeed, with continued innovation and research into temperature control within these devices - ventilated or refrigerated - we can expect even increased developments with our beloved microcentrifuges. 


Take a look at Haier Microcentrifuges: Haier Refrigerated Microcentrifuges and Haier Ventilated Microcentrifuges

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