Centrifuge A Beginner’s Overview of Centrifugal Separation

Centrifuge A Beginner’s Overview of Centrifugal Separation


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  • Source: Microbioz India

  • Date: 20 Jan,2024

The centrifuge is a laboratory or industrial appliance that utilizes the force of gravity to separate materials in a liquid or mixture based on their respective densities, sizes, and shapes. Additionally, the act of spinning the mixture quickly around an axis by using centrifugal force causes heavier parts of it to be pushed away from the axis as lighter ones are drawn towards this.

What is Centrifugal Separation?

Centrifugal force principles are used in the process of centrifugal separation, which involves separating material particles within a liquid. It is extensively utilized in a variety of sectors to separate gases from liquids as well as solids and different liquids from one another.

Components of a Basic Centrifuge:


  1. The rotor is the central part which rotates at high speed producing centrifugal force.
  2. Various designs can be made depending on its application.

Centrifuge Chamber

  1. The chamber into which a sample or mixture meant to be separated is placed.

Drive System

  1. This provides power needed for spinning of the rotor.

How Centrifugal Separation Works:

Centrifugal Force:

  1. The rotation generates extremely strong outward force referred to as centrifugal force.
  2. This equals velocity of rotation multiplied by particles’ mass.


  1. Heavy particles have higher rate of migration towards the outer parts due to centrifugal acceleration acting on them.
  2. As a result, these substances settle at the bottom of the centrifuge chamber.


  1. Due to their masses and sizes, matter in mixtures always settles at varying points.
  2. Hence, it leads to components layering into separate layers or zones.

Also read:

Understanding Centrifuge Diagrams for Efficient Process Optimization

Types of Centrifuges:

Laboratory Centrifuges:

  1. Used for small-scale sample separation in laboratories.
  2. Frequently found in biology, chemistry and medical laboratories.

Industrial Centrifuges:

  1. These are large and heavy-duty devices meant for industrial processes.
  2. Commonly applied in food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, and waste water treatment industries.

Differential Centrifugation:

  1. Sorts out particles on the basis of differences in their sizes and densities.

Isopycnic Centrifugation:

  1. Separates particles according to their density alone.


Medical and Clinical Applications:

  1. Blood constituent separation (blood cells & plasma).
  2. Cell isolation in research.

Food and Beverage Industry:

  1. Clarification of fruit juices.
  2. Separating cream from milk.

Chemical Industry:

  1. Separation of catalysts.
  2. Purifying chemicals.

Environmental Applications:

  1. Treating wastewater.
  2. Oil-water separation.


Centrifuge Speed:

  1. The speed at which it rotates affects the efficiency of separation.

Centrifuge Capacity:

  1. The different types of centrifuge have different capacities hence one selects them depending on the mass that is going to be handled.

Temperature Control:

  1. In some instances, temperature has to be regulated so as to avoid sample degradation.

Centrifugal Separation:

Centrifugal separation is a technique that divides mixture components according to their density, size, and form by using centrifugal force. This method is frequently used for the isolation and purification of diverse chemicals in a variety of industries and laboratory settings.

A versatile method, centrifugal separation is essential to many commercial, scientific, and medicinal activities. Optimizing its utilization for particular tasks requires an understanding of the underlying principles and applications.

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