A water aspirator is a simple device capable of creating a low strength vacuum for many standard laboratory applications. Though they are inexpensive to purchase and easy to use, the long-term operating costs and environmental impact of laboratory water aspirators can be quite significant.
The above video from Lab Manager follows Linda the Lab Manager as she and her colleagues investigate the real costs of owning and operating a laboratory water aspirator.
Water Aspirators are a common way of creating a low strength vacuum for many standard laboratory applications. Their simple design employs water running through a narrowing tube to create a reduced pressure via the Venturi effect. The pump’s performance is dependent upon the temperature and pressure of the water, two variables that often change based on the number of users and the ambient temperature, resulting in an unreliable vacuum source. In addition, when being used in chemistry and biology labs, aspirators allow potentially hazardous solvents to mix into the water stream and flow down the drain. Since a stream of continuously running water is required to operate the pump, a significant amount of water is wasted. The cost of water coupled with the environmental impact of wasted water and solvent pollution need to be considered.
With concern over water usage on the rise, use of aspirator pumps is understandably under scrutiny due to their excessive water consumption. A typical aspirator pump requires 1.5 – 2.0 gallons of water per minute to operate.3 Assuming an average of 1.75 gal/min and an average usage of 3 hours per day, 4 days a week for 10 months a year, one aspirator pump uses more than 50,000 gallons (189,000 Liters) per year! To put this amount of water in perspective, it is equivalent to:
- 39,062 flushes of a low-flow toilet.4
- 3,215 eight-minute showers, or a single shower lasting 416 hours.4
- Washing 1,852 loads of laundry.4
- 1.4 years’ worth of water consumed by the average American household for outdoor uses (watering lawns and gardens, etc.).5
- 1,250 cars washed at a water-efficient car wash facility.6
When one considers the number of facilities with multiple water aspirators in operation, these numbers become staggering! >> Click here to view the full Application Note.