With all companies increasingly focused on sustainability, selecting products – including those for the lab – that reduce or eliminate waste and save energy are becoming a top priority. While many labs have traditionally relied on oil-lubricated vacuum pumps, oil-free alternatives have become prevalent, in part, because they are better suited to comply with corporate guidelines for reducing carbon footprint. The question, however, is what other advantages do these pumps provide and how do you select the best one for your application?
In most instances, the price of an oil-free pump, sometimes referred to as a dry pump, is higher than the oil-lubricated alternative. However, when you consider the process savings, lower user costs, and environmental benefits, oil-free pumps, such as the KNF LABOPORT® shown in figure 1, more than pay for themselves over the long life of the pump. Let’s review two key advantages in a bit more detail:
This applies to both the carbon version and the actual space in the lab. Eliminating oil means there is no risk for contamination, and no need for oil changes and subsequent expensive, hazardous material disposal. Also, they do not emit fumes that contaminate the air. Oil-free pumps also are more compact, requiring less room on the bench, helping reduce the overall size of the lab in some cases.
Considering the long life of pumps in the lab, operating costs should be a major consideration, especially in relation to the actual purchase price. Less energy is required to run the oil-free pump, creating lower electricity bills for a lab. As oil-free pumps can be built to be corrosion-resistant, and again, since there is no need for oil changes and associated expenses, maintenance costs are lower, as well.
Selecting the Best Pump for Your Application:
Now, there are many different oil-free vacuum pumps to choose from. Scientists and other lab professionals are not always sure which one is best for their application. A good first step is to select the manufacturer. Look for a manufacturer that understands the application and has the benefit of experience. This will help ensure the proper pump is selected for your individual lab requirements.
Selecting the proper vacuum level is also important. Many times, especially with older oil-lubricated pumps, the capacity and vacuum levels exceed what is truly necessary. Matching the vacuum to the application will result in more efficient operation and cost savings.
Also consider service. Of course, oil-free pumps are highly reliable, as many models can go 10,000+ hours without needing service. Some pumps, such as those designed and manufactured by KNF, can have a diaphragm replaced on site in a half hour with just a screwdriver. There’s no hazardous materials handling and drainage, nor is a specialized service professional required to perform the work. Think of it as simply changing the filter in your air conditioning unit.
To learn more about oil-free diaphragm pumps and their advantages, visit the KNF Technical Library. There, you can review white papers detailing application- and market-specific data.