Vacuum ovens are essential appliances found in laboratories across scientific disciplines. Their ability to enable drying at lower temperatures using a pressurized vacuum environment has made them useful, specifically in life science industries ranging from pharmaceuticals, microbiology, food agriculture, and healthcare.
Furthermore, they’re used within other sectors to support research and development efforts of biological products. Without them, scientists wouldn’t be able to extract or interact with the organic matter without destroying the leftover specimen in the heating procedure. Thus, if you’re considering whether you need one of these apparatus for your lab operations, you can read further on to learn about their applications and uses.
Here’s how life science industries use laboratory vacuum ovens.
Drying, also known as desiccation or dehumidification, is the most common use of lab vacuum ovens. They’re used to remove moisture or flammable solvents from biological samples and materials. Many of these samples are prone to damage, melting, burning, or cracking when exposed to high heat. As such, the ovens lower the boiling point of water which is 100 degrees Celsius. This then preserves the other properties whilst only evaporating moisture and humidity.
A laboratory vacuum oven does all these using pumps that lower the pressure around the substance, making it easier to evaporate only the water inside it. Food product developers and researchers often use this method to keep packaged or sealed food dry while preserving its natural freshness. In the case of solvents, the oven chamber creates a suitable environment for preventing oxidation and thus eliminates the risk of igniting explosions.
Drying is commonly used for pharmaceuticals, environmental technology, chemistry research, and electronics.
In relation to the drying application previously mentioned, baking is also a form of heating, mainly using a gravity convection-capable vacuum oven. It’s used when a substance inside the oven needs drying without the dehumidification process. In other words, humidity is retained in relatively smaller amounts compared to drying. This makes sure these materials can be used in high vacuum systems. It’s also referred to as an accelerated outgassing procedure.
In this case, the items are heated to about 200 Degrees Celsius to get rid of gases and other unwanted pollutants trapped inside. The hot airflow naturally rises, and the temperature doesn’t need to remain consistent. Furthermore, these lab vacuum ovens don’t use fan blowing to keep lightweight substances such as powders in place. Baking is applied in numerous industries ranging from food to medicine within the life science sector.
Annealing is the process where the properties of hard and tough materials change using laboratory vacuums. Some of these materials include steel, aluminum, plastic, brass, and glass. The materials are heated at high temperatures and then cooled to make them malleable. Doing this allows them to be bent, stretched, molded, and hammered without breaking—also known as ductility.
Though annealing is often used by steel manufacturers, jewelers, and metallurgy sectors, it’s still important for life science industries. This is because most medical equipment used in healthcare is manufactured using this method. These include hospital supplies like surgical devices, syringes, pacemakers, dental implants, and many more.
Sterilization, or the process of destroying harmful microorganisms, bacterial spores, and other biological agents is vital in all life sciences. So naturally, many vacuum ovens are used in labs for the sterilization of glass equipment. This process can be used to clean laboratory equipment and environments for healthcare, as well as to ensure that medicine is free of microbes in pharmaceutical industries.
Additionally, sterilization is carried out on tools to prevent cross-contamination and infections and ensure data collection is accurate and authentic results are recorded during medical experiments and research. These laboratory vacuum ovens work by circulating intense dry heat or steam and pressure at 121 degrees Celsius at minimum for about 30 minutes to completely kill off all organic components and microbial growths.
Life science industries use laboratory vacuum ovens to heat temperature-sensitive substances without destroying them, and they do this by using low-pressure created by a vacuum pump inside the chamber. This heating method allows scientists to dry, sterilize, degas, and extract volatile material and biohazards from their samples. A lot of life science and medical research highly depend on this equipment to carry out accurate data collection.
These features have made vacuum ovens useful in labs that produce medicine and medical supplies, as well as food and environmental development to ensure biological safety. Thus, you should consider getting an oven if you work in a laboratory that handles live organisms and materials sciences in need of the above applications.