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Tips on Homogenizing Delicate Samples

Avoiding sample damage by heat or mechanical action can be of concern to laboratory scientists researching solutions to disease prevention or developing new or improved medical treatments.     Tissue homogenization, cell disruption, and emulsifying are but three of many applications where laboratory homogenizers may be called into play.  Accessories such as a flow-through chamber also may be called into action as part of process development.

In addition to avoiding temperature and mechanical damage to delicate samples, the homogenizing equipment must be easy to clean by sterilizing and autoclaving.  Yet this must be done without damaging the equipment.

To address these concerns CAT Scientific offers the following general suggestions that can be modified based on the specific homogenizing circumstances. In this particular instance the process involves a flow through chamber attached to a homogenizer drive motor for processing fungal balls.  We caution, however, that you do not adopt any process without discussing them with CAT scientists.

1.  Sample Damage

The potential to damage samples in a homogenizer generator can be minimized by correct rotor-stator configuration and homogenizer speed.  Scientists should experiment to define optimum parameters.

2.  Flow-Through Chamber Processing Rate

Two flow through chambers are available: the smaller DK 30 can handle 2,000 or 3,000 liters per hour depending on the shaft selected, and the larger DK 40 model handles to 5,000 liters per hour.

3.  Chamber Dwell Time

If it is desired to keep samples in the chamber for extended homogenization the outlet tube flow can be restricted.

4.  Heat Buildup

If samples can be damaged by heat, select a chamber equipped with a cooling jacket to channel chilled water around the assembly.

5.  Equipment Cleaning and Sterilizing

Rotor-stator homogenizers and flow-through chamber components can be sterilized and/or autoclaved providing the following basic guidelines are observed:

  1. Disconnect the assembly from the drive motor.
  2. Ideally the rotor-stator assembly should be disconnected from the flow through chamber assembly.
  3. If feasible remove inlet and outlet tubes from the chamber.
  4. Sterilize to 120⁰C and steam to 15 psi.
  5. Autoclaving can be accomplished at 120⁰C. Do not autoclave a rotor-stator sealed shaft.
  6. All O-ring seals should be inspected on a regular basis as they can deteriorate at high temperatures.

Another Lab Homogenizer Cleaning Tip

Due to the complex geometry of homogenizer generators, whether used alone or as part of a flow through chamber assembly, they have a propensity to trap sample particles.  Removing lodged particles should be done before sterilizing or disinfecting, otherwise they will remain on and possibly more tenaciously adhere to assembly components.  We suggest you investigate an ultrasonic cleaner as the first step to remove such contaminants.

If you have additional questions on homogenizing procedures for delicate samples or for any homogenizing application please contact the homogenizing experts at CAT Scientific for details.

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Bob Wilcox

Bob Wilcox has represented CAT Scientific’s family of homogenizers, magnetic stirrers, liquid handling and related laboratory equipment since 2002 when Staufen, Germany-based CAT Ingenieurbüro M. Zipperer GMbH established operations in North America. Bob oversees CAT Scientific laboratory apparatus sales and service organization from the company’s headquarters in Paso Robles, CA. He also is in charge of the parent company’s line of JetCat jet turbines, turboprop, and helicopter power plants for hobbyists’ radio controlled fixed wing and helicopter model aircraft. -- Earlier in Bob’s career he was involved in visual and special effects as well as camera and electronics supervisory responsibilities for the motion picture and television industry.

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