considerations when buying microwave technology for your lab

Maintenance Tip: Microwave Technology

The electronics in a microwave digester need to breathe. Keep your microwave out of fume hoods and away from corrosives to keep the electronics happy. Regularly inspecting the vessel for wear and tear is also important; most manufacturers provide specific guidelines for what to look for when inspecting the vessel. You’ll also want to make sure you put the vessel together correctly and don’t put in too much sample.

How does sample type affect which microwave will be best for the laboratory’s needs?

The sample type and solution into which it is placed can have an effect on the type of microwave used. As different samples may require different temperatures, knowing the maximum power output of the device can help ensure that the samples can be sufficiently heated to perform a full digestion. For extractions, it should be noted that some solvents can act as a heat sink, which should be considered when debating the maximum power output required.

How does sample volume and throughput influence which type of microwave digestion is required?

Ensure that the microwave has the capacity to hold the correct vessel size for the samples before purchasing. As well, the maximum capacity and throughput of the system based on vessel size should be noted, to ensure the turnaround times of the laboratory are met.

How will the processes and chemicals in the laboratory influence the installation of the microwave digester?

Microwaves are highly intricate and sensitive pieces of equipment. In order to cool themselves, they will typically draw in outside air. As a result, keeping acidic or corrosive materials in the same area as the microwave (such as in a fume hood) will be detrimental to the function of the microwave. If this cannot be avoided, some vendors may have a solution to pull cooling air from another source, to help protect the microwave electronics.

For further resources on microwave digestion in particular, see