How Does an Autoclave Vacuum Pump Work?

What is a vacuum pump?

A piece of equipment that removes air from a sealed space and leaves behind a limited vacuum. They’re used by many industries for a variety of purposes.

Today I want to briefly discuss one of the pumps used in your autoclave system – the vacuum pump.

One of the processes that can occur in your autoclave is the vacuum process.

The vacuum process can be created in many different ways such as using a liquid ring vacuum pump or eductors. In this post, we are going to discuss creating a vacuum using a liquid ring vacuum pump.

Figure 1- Vacuum Pump Components

Figure 1 above outlines the three main components of the pump we are going to concentrate on.

1. The Pump Inlet

The pump inlet is connected to the autoclave via piping and valves. When the vacuum pump is turned on, air is removed from the autoclave and enters the pump through this inlet.

2. Pump Rotor

While the pump is on, the rotor spins within the pump’s chamber housing. This draws the air into an inlet port on the rotor’s cone. This port then feeds the air into cavities on the pump rotor.

The air collected in the cavities is rotated around the chamber housing as the rotor spins. As it does, it comes into contact with a liquid ring seal, also located within the chamber housing, which compresses the air.

This compressed-air then travels around and into the rotor’s discharge port.

3. Pump Outlet

Once the compressed air reaches the discharge port on the pump rotor’s cone, it passes through the port and out of the pump outlet.

So what creates the vacuum? It’s all about compression! Nash, one of our vacuum pump suppliers, made a great animation video about this.

As you can see in the video, the interaction between the air being pulled into the pump, the liquid seal in the pump’s cavity, and the pump’s rotor all work together to compress the air thereby creating a vacuum as the air exits through the pump’s outlet. Pretty cool huh!?

Autoclave vacuum pump magic

Let’s recap.

The keys to making the magic are:

  • How the pump rotor, cone, and its inlet and discharge ports are designed.
  • How the rotor is offset from the pump’s cavity wall. This creates the liquid seal around the rotor as it spins.
  • Keeping the water seal at a cool temperature is one the keys to creating a high vacuum in your autoclave. How cool you ask? That depends, and a long-winded explanation which I’ll save for another blog post.

Understanding how the autoclave vacuum pump works helps you use your equipment correctly, perform the proper maintenance and ensure that unnecessary downtime doesn’t affect your productivity.

Author: Jeffrey Lippincott

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