Intricate Applications from Humble Beginnings
These workhorse instruments are used for a variety of applications, ranging from simple glassware drying to much more intricate operations such as the removal of chemicals from heat-sensitive materials via vacuum pressure.
The typical types of laboratory ovens seen in most laboratories are convection or forced air ovens. Manufacturers have made substantial upgrades to these basic types, including improved energy efficiency and more accurate temperature control. As a result, these units are great for drying glassware and equipment, and for annealing or baking samples. However, as every lab is different, sometimes a more specialized solution may be required.
In order to minimize the risk of crossover contamination in many processes, such as pharmaceutical or health care manufacturing, many laboratories utilize clean rooms. These clean rooms are held under strict accreditation guidelines—such as those laid out in ISO 14644-1—that dictate the maximum size and number of particles allowable in the clean room.
As the heating and drying of materials can produce aerosols and various particulates, manufacturers such as Shel Lab (Cornelius, OR) offer many solutions that adhere to these guidelines and prevent contamination from occurring. Their clean room ovens come with the option of inert atmosphere purging, fully welded stainless steel interiors, and Class E11 HEPA filters to ensure that contamination is prevented both inside and out.
While vacuum technology has been around for a considerable amount of time, vacuum ovens are a specialized approach for many laboratory applications. By utilizing a vacuum, the temperature at which a liquid will evaporate is reduced, which allows for the drying of heat-sensitive samples.
Many industries use this technology for testing, such as the food and beverage industry for moisture testing food, medical technology manufacturers to remove moisture without causing heat damage to the equipment, and the medical cannabis industry to assist in the extraction of THC. In order to ensure the proper configurations and protocols are met for each laboratory, Binder (Bohemia, NY) offers a wide range of vacuum oven types, along with vacuum pumps, including enhanced safety options for volatile samples and reagents.
In some laboratory processes—especially those where solvents or highly volatile compounds are used—the addition of heat can pose a significant safety hazard. In response to this, manufacturers such as Thermal Product Solutions (White Deer, PA) offer highly specialized units that can mitigate the risk of fire or explosions. This is achieved through a variety of measures: ovens are made of highly reinforced steel, have pressure relief systems, and allow for close monitoring of exhaust rates and temperatures. In some cases, a heating element can be eliminated altogether by using high-velocity air as a heating method, further reducing the risk of explosion or fire.
As the laboratory and testing landscape continues to change, manufacturers must keep up in order to offer customers what they need. The lab oven—featuring an ever-increasing selection for many processes—shows a clear example of this growing need for robust equipment.
For additional resources on laboratory ovens, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit www.labmanager.com/lab-ovens