What You Need to Know for Working Under Vacuum in a Jacketed Lab Reactor

There are several factors that can impact the vacuum level achieved in a jacketed lab reactor. Firstly, it is greatly recommended that glass cone stoppers (first image below) are used instead of Rodaviss sealing caps (second image below) on any unused lid sockets.

A frequent problem that arises when using Rodaviss sealing caps is that the internal seal is prone to being sucked out by the vacuum. Glass cone stoppers do not have this issue and they also have better chemical resistance.

What You Need to Know for Working Under Vacuum in a Jacketed Lab Reactor

Image Credit: Radleys

Troubleshooting Checklist for Working Under Vacuum

In addition to using glass cone stoppers, there are several additional steps that can assist in improving the performance of the reactor under vacuum:

  • Check that all O-rings are in prime condition and take out any that are not. (It is good practice to check and replace your O-rings on a routine basis for all applications, not just those under vacuum.)
  • Ensure a suitable vacuum pump (considering the ultimate vacuum etc.) is available for the given application.
  • Ensure all joints are clean, tight and correctly assembled.
  • Ensure all the other components of the system (such as the stirrer shaft and guide) are correctly positioned and are in a suitable condition.
  • Ensure the vessel/lid clamp is suitably tightened.
  • Make sure all valves are closed properly.
  • Make sure there is no moisture in the system, which can lead to pressure increases and thereby reduce the efficiency of the vacuum.
  • Some chemists choose to use vacuum (or silicone) grease in glass joints for improved vacuum level, although usually, this is not necessary.
  • If the vacuum pump or tubing is new, the experiment should be allowed to run for a few hours to ensure optimal vacuum levels are achieved.

Other Factors that Could Affect the Vacuum Level

  • Stirring speed and viscosity of the material being stirred
  • The reaction taking place inside the vessel
  • Vessel temperature

Using Radleys’ Reactor-Ready Series

The type of reactor in use will have an impact on the vacuum levels that can be achieved. Radleys’ Reactor-Ready series of jacketed reactors have been specifically designed to offer enhanced performance when compared to conventional systems, and one of these enhancements is vacuum tightness.

A vacuum of around 10-20 mbar is usually achievable, but a vacuum as low as 3-5 mbar is possible under specific test conditions. Download the guide to testing the gas tightness of Reactor-Ready using vacuum or pressure.

In addition to enhancing the vacuum level, the improved sealing in Reactor-Ready means the lifetime of the equipment is prolonged because it is less likely to corrode, the reactor is safer to use, and less of the valuable product is lost.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Radleys.

For more information on this source, please visit Radleys.

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