Vortex mixers are one of the primary technologies for mixing laboratory samples in test tubes, flasks, or well plates which use a simple mechanism to agitate samples and encourage reactions or homogenization, all with high degrees of precision.
In this process, motorized drive shafts beneath the sample platform oscillate rapidly, thereby transferring orbital motion to sample containers loaded into the mixer. This results in sample fluids circulating and undergoing turbulent flow; in other words, it creates a vortex.
The vortex created is a similar form of kinetic force to stirring, but minus a component that protrudes into the sample container. A vortex is the preferred choice for a host of microbiology and life science applications with sensitive samples or high throughput operations. A typical stirrer faces several limitations – for instance, it can only mix a single sample container at a time.
Moreover, a typical stirrer cannot mix fluids in sealed flasks, often a prerequisite for mixing reagents of biochemical assays. In contrast, vortex mixers are usually engineered with a minimum dual-plate format, thus enabling simultaneous mixing of multiple samples.
Types of Vortex Mixers
Vortex mixers’ geometries are incredibly varied, and can range from single test-tube touch mixers to large capacity designs.
Glas-Col’s touch vortex mixer is engineered with a variable-speed motor, that can be engineered to run continuously or to respond to applied pressure. Many alternative technologies may be subject to overloading when excessive pressure is applied to the rubber-cup, but Glas-Col’s Touch Vortexer is designed with a permanent-magnet, variable speed motor, to provide enhanced durability during intensive periods of operation.
Single test-tube mixing as well as touch vortexing are unsuitable for high throughput laboratory environments and caustic sample types. In contrast, high capacity vortex mixers use a cartridge system that is capable of housing multiple sample containers at once. These are usually designed to facilitate a variety of vessel types, ranging from micro-centrifuge tubes to larger Erlenmeyer flasks.
Additional Functionalities of Vortex Mixers
Although the swirling action of vortex mixers can be used to homogenize samples like heterogeneous solutions, their mixing action is limited in terms of vertical strata. When solutions mix horizontally around the axis of rotation, it complicates the preparation of samples with constituent parts comprising disparate densities.
This challenge is overcome by innovative vortex mixers, with an additional pulse functionality interrupting the orbital motion of the fluid to mix from bottom to top. With pulse rates of up to 80 pulses per minute (ppm), these mixers provide the most thorough mixing to ensure that immiscible fluids or difficult suspensions are suitably homogenized.
A range of novel vortex mixers has also been designed within sterile incubators, which provide tight-control of a reaction’s thermal conditions throughout orbital mixing processes. However, the utmost precision during processing is required for the thermodynamic stability of complex biochemical products. Enter Glas-Col’s incubating vortex mixer, boasting a broad speed range from 150 – 1200 rpm, across a temperature range of 15 – 50 °C.
Vortex Mixers from Glas-Col
Glas-Col specializes in developing high functionality laboratory equipment for a broad range of application areas. The Glas-Col range of vortex mixers has been used for studies as disparate as food contamination analysis and bacterial protein expressions.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Glas-Col.
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