For an industry that’s been around seemingly forever (the first known model dates back to 1650), there’s a surprising lack of detailed information as to what these important machines can actually do for us today. With so many styles and capacities to choose from, knowing which vacuum pump will be right for your extraction lab can be tough.
With any product category that’s been around for so long, there have been hundreds of different takes on what these pumps are and how they should function. While they’ve seen heavy use in a wide range of industries for the last hundred years, vacuum pumps have recently become a major part of cannabis extraction and distillation. In short, people all around the globe are now in a position where they need to decide which type of product they need in order to run the most efficient, successful commercial laboratory possible.
Five things to think about when buying a pump:
1) Vacuum depth
One of the main reasons people use vacuums in sealed lab equipment setups is to decrease the boiling point of compounds within. Many compounds have different boiling points, and the greater the vacuum depth, the lower the boiling point can be. When atmospheric pressure is removed, evaporation can occur faster. Exactly how much vacuum you’ll need depends on the size of your system and the types of compounds you’ll be working with.
2) Chemical resistance
Whichever pump you choose, you need to make sure that the pump itself is resistant to the chemicals you’ll be using. If you don’t, corrosion can occur and the pump won’t last as long. Even though in theory chemicals won’t make it back to the pump, they can and often do.
3) Type of pump
There are many different types of commercial units on the market. Each serves a different purpose, and if you use the wrong unit for the wrong application, you’ll either get inadequate results or you can damage and destroy your equipment.
With so many products available, it’s generally wise to use a well-known brand. Pay attention to each company’s track record, warranty, and price point, as these are indicators of the quality (or lack of quality) of the product.
CFM (cubic feet per minute) can be a factor for the effectiveness of the pump. Make sure you have the right CFM for the size and needs of your lab; otherwise you may encounter a lot of problems down the road.
In the world of concentrates and essential oils, vacuum filtration is an essential component of a successful lab. Together with vacuum ovens, these products are at the heart of many laboratory processes. They go hand in hand with rotary evaporation configurations and much more.
One of the most important factors that every lab owner should consider from the outset is upfront cost against lifetime cost. While some pumps are more expensive today, they may save money down the road in the form of requiring less maintenance. Other products may have a smaller cash outlay at the start, but will require regular oil changes and preventative maintenance; otherwise the risk of total failure increases.
There are many well-established players in the industry, and each has its own ideas as to what these products should do, how they should be built, and how they should run. Unlike the auto industry, where there is a lot of standardization, the differences between pump appearances and functionality are striking.
A comprehensive guide on vacuum pump selection can be found at https://labsociety.com/lab-equipment-category/vacuum-pumps/.
Ross Palmer is digital marketing manager, Lab Society, 4699 Nautilus Ct. South #503, Boulder, CO 80301, U.S.A.; tel.: 720-684-6857; e-mail: [email protected]