Before we start discussing lyophilizers, you need to understand some basic definitions. First, benchtop lyophilization is a term used to refer to freeze-drying. In simple terms, it is a costly and precise technique that is used to preserve products such as biopharmaceuticals, astronaut food, and food products.
I know your interest is entirely on benchtop lyophilizer price. However, it is always important to know what you are buying. Understand that these machines cost quite a fortune, which means that you need to know what you are buying.
In this article, I will walk you through everything you need to know about these lyophilizers. In the end, you should be able to decide for yourself whether they are worth the price.
What Is Lyophilization and Where Does It Use?
Did you know that Lyophilization is used to preserve museum exhibition objects? Note that the entire process works by dehydrating the products through sublimation without loss of structure or shrinkage. Surprisingly, this technique has been around for thousands of years.
The Incas tamed cold temperatures of the Andes, thereby producing freeze-dried food. Over time, the process has become quite common in industrial processes and laboratory practices. In 1890, the Germans used the technique to freeze-dry tissues.
Over the years, Lyophilization has significantly evolved and is now considered as an invaluable process. It is used in medicine, chemistry, cosmetics, research, high-volume production, astronautics, and food processing.
How to Pick and Buy a Benchtop Lyophilizer In Valuable Price?
Lyophilizers are state-of-the-art tools used in lab settings to increase the shelf life of pharmaceuticals and vaccines. These freeze-dryers are also excellent for the transportation of the above products to the required destinations.
Choosing the best benchtop lyophilizer is not as simple as it seems. Understand that these tools have several wild applications. You may be looking to replace an old one or set up a new lab. Whatever the reason, this buying guide will help you.
Before thinking about getting a particular lyophilizer, you need to consider the type of research and production goals. The sample size will also help you make an informed decision. Understand that the benchtop models are excellent for small volumes. Floor-standing lyophilizers, on the other hand, are great for large-scale production.
It would help if you also considered the volume of the liquid. Understand that food products have higher am outs of liquids, which means that they need a bigger capacity. The capacity of the lyophilizers ranges from model to model.
Your research goals will determine the equipment that you need. You will have to look at materials used, capacity parameters, and the overall design. However, note that lyophilizers follow the same process when executing water removal.
Understand that evaporation is not the same as lyophilization. With evaporation, you use heat to get rid of all the moisture. With sublimation, however, there is direct transmission from a solid-state to a gaseous state.
3. Total costs
Lyophilization is quite expensive, as stated earlier. You have to factor in the long processing times, equipment cost, and the energy costs. The prices will, therefore, vary depending on the unit’s parameters, such as:
The good news is that full-sized models will process many samples within a single cycle. A few units have multiple condensers to ensure that the process is continued for an extended period. Don’t forget about the drying accessories that you need.
Types of Lyophilizers
These lyophilizers come in different shapes and sizes. However, they are generally classified according to the kind of chamber. These classifications include:
- Manifold benchtop units
- Shelf consoles
- Combination models
With Shelf Consoles, the condenser is located inside the product chamber or in a separate chamber. This means that the condenser can either be internal or external. The external model has the condenser connected using a vapor port. Here the product is kept-in directly on a shelf.
#Manifold Benchtop lyophilizer
The manifold benchtop lyophilizer is an excellent choice when you are looking for entry equipment into freeze-drying. It is the ideal choice for researchers working in active processing or pharmaceutical ingredient lab. Here the product is pre-frozen and placed in flasks.
Most researchers choose benchtop lyophilizers due to the following reasons:
- A considerable number of small individual samples
- Early-stage research
- Smaller budget
- Product amount is small
- Products not for commercial use
Yes, benchtop lyophilizers can get the job done effectively. But, you must understand their limitations as well. The most significant disadvantage is that the operator has no control over the entire process. The high-end shelf type and complicated freeze dryers offer more control.
With combination models, the product can either be placed in a tray or pre-frozen and kept in a flask. You, therefore, get the functionality of both benchtop and shelf console lyophilizers.
Three Primary Stages of a Lyophilizer
As stated earlier, a lyophilizer has three main phases. Below is an in-depth look at what happens during these stages.
1. Freezing Phase
A lyophilizer starts by cooling the material to levels below its triple point. This ensures that sublimation will occur and not melting. The material’s physical form will, therefore, get preserved through this first step.
Understand that the freezing occurs rapidly to ensure that cell walls of the biological materials are not broken. Annealing is used for the materials that precipitate because it involves fast freezing, followed by raising the temperature to allow for the growth of crystals.
2. Primary Drying Phase
The second phase involves lowering the pressure and adding heat to the material to ensure proper sublimation. The lyophilizer has a vacuum to ensure that this step occurs quickly. The cold condenser then provides a surface in which the water vapor can attach and solidify.
The condenser also ensures that the vacuum pump isn’t damaged by the water vapor. Understand that about 95% of all the water is removed during this step. You, therefore, need to pay close attention during this step because too much heat will alter the structure of the material. The primary drying phase will take some time.
3. Secondary Drying
This is the final phase in your lyophilizer, which involves adsorption. All the ionically-bound water gets removed during this stage by raising the temperature. The bonds are broken due to the increased temperature, thus releasing the water molecules.
The freeze-dried materials usually remain porous due to this stage. The lyophilizer vacuum can then be broken using an inert gas before the materials get sealed. Note that most materials are dried to 1-5% residual moisture.
Maintaining Your Lyophilizer
Taking care of lyophilizers is quite vital, especially when you consider the cost. As stated earlier, everything about the entire process is costly. You don’t want to buy a new lyophilizer on account of poor maintenance.
The first step is reading the entire user manual upon purchase. You have to ensure that the equipment is set up correctly. Understand that you will only get accurate use from your equipment once the setup is done correctly.
You also have to account for several risks, including condenser overload, excessive vapor, and insufficient refrigeration. Most vendors recommend that you only load the machine with half the capacity listed on the product description.
Cleaning and regular maintenance will ensure that you get long-lasting use of your new equipment. You have to regularly perform maintenance practices such as basic oil changes, cleaning the collectors, and neutralizing the unit.
It would help if you also let a trained professional carry out an annual checkup. The checkup is to ensure that all your components are functioning effectively. Ensure that you find a qualified technician with years of experience to carry out the annual or semi-annual checkups.
1. How long is the freeze-drying process?
Typically, it takes around 20-40 hours to complete the freeze-drying process. However, note that the food quantity and food type will affect the freeze-dry cycle. This means that food substances such as corn, peas, and meat will dry quickly. Watermelon and squash will take a much longer time when compared to other types of food.
2. What is Lyophilization?
Lyophilization, also referred to as freeze-drying, is a costly process that preserves biological material by taking away all the water from the provided sample. First-freezing the sample is usually the first step before drying under a vacuum at extremely low temperatures. Understand that the lyophilized samples can be stored for way longer when compared to untreated samples.
3. What is the difference between dehydration and freeze-drying?
First, understand that dehydration and freeze-drying are two completely different concepts. With dehydration, about 80% of the water content is removed. Freeze drying, on the other hand, gets rid of 98% of the water. Freeze-dried products have longer shelf-life when compared to dehydrated foods.
4. Is freeze-drying healthy?
Freeze-drying uses the same concept as freezing, which helps preserve the nutrients. However, note that freeze-dried foods have low water content, which means that you will probably eat more. Although this means that you might end up eating more nutrients, it also means that you also get more sugar and energy.
5. Does Lyophilization Kill Bacteria?
According to past studies, freeze-drying can lower the number of bacteria but won’t eliminate all of them. Understand that the process works by freezing the material and removing water content through sublimation.
The benchtop lyophilizer price ranges between $1500 to $4000. You will, therefore, have to spend a fortune when you decide to buy this equipment. You must, therefore, do extensive research before deciding on a particular model.
Use this buyer’s guide to help you determine the best lyophilizer for you. Doing this will ensure you get a machine that will give you long-lasting services. Always remember that you are spending a fortune, which means that you can’t afford to make any mistakes.