A rotovap setup can be quite complex. You have your basic components including the rotary evaporator and glassware, chiller, and vacuum pump and controller, but there are also a number of accessories that can help optimize your process.
We covered the core components of a rotovap setup in a previous post, but there is a range of additional accessories available designed to make your life easier. In this post, we’ll cover some of the most useful rotovap accessories to help you achieve the optimal setup for your application.
Many of the accessories you’ll find available are various pieces of glassware. Lots of these are basic parts such as valves and joints, but there are several more specialized glassware components designed to tweak your setup. Here are some that may be of interest:
Some evaporation flasks are round-bottomed, but a more common shape is an “oval-bottomed” flask, although these are more of a pear or teardrop shape. Some examples are this Across International flask (left) and Scilogex evaporating flask (right).
There are other types of flask available too, often specialized in terms of shape and functionality.
Indented flasks such as this Heidolph example (left) are often referred to as drying flasks or powder flasks. The indentations can provide superior mixing compared to regular flasks and prevent powder accumulating on the walls.
Are you working with viscous substances? IKA’s evaporation cylinder (right) makes their retrieval easy and comes in two sizes: 500 mL and 1,500 mL.
A distilling spider can allow for the simultaneous distillation of multiple samples. This can vastly increase efficiency if you have multiple small samples to process. The IKA distilling spider with flasks (left) comes with five 50 mL flasks. The IKA distilling spiders with distilling sleeves comes with six, 12, or 20 sleeves.
Foaming or bumping can lead to sample loss or contamination. Foam brakes are a popular addition to rotovap setups as they trap the sample, preventing it from entering the receiving flask. You should be able to find a foam brake compatible with most rotary evaporators.
Need to speed up your application? IKA’s vertical-intensive condenser with manifold (left) is specially designed with a double jacket for high-efficiency condensation. This condenser comes in two versions: uncoated or coated. The latter has a safety coating designed for shatter protection.
If you’re working with a low boiling point solvent, you may consider using a dry ice condenser such as Across International’s condenser for the SE05 (right). These use dry ice to cool the solvent negating the need for a chiller.
Concerned about solvent entering the vacuum pump? The Across International glass vapor filtering bottle for SolventVaps (left) will trap small liquid droplets which may be pulled from the condenser by the air flow from the vacuum pump. These vessels (also known as Woulff bottles) help to prolong the vacuum pump’s life and maintain a cleaner working environment. Another example is the Heidolph Woulff bottle (right).
There are also other accessories that could help with various facets of your rotovap setup, including efficiency, safety, and general practicality.
A cold trap is designed to condense all vapors (bar permanent gases) into solid or liquid form. These have only a small amount of liquid storage capacity and are therefore intended as a supplement to the regular action of the condenser rather than a replacement. This helps prevent vapors entering and condensing in the vacuum pump, protecting it from contamination and flooding.
In addition, a cold trap can prevent product contamination. If a pump uses oil as its working fluid or lubricant, there’s a risk that oil vapors can back stream into the cavity and contaminate the sample. The cold trap will greatly lower this risk. When dealing with large liquid samples, large cold traps such as the ones below from Across International can be very helpful.
Just need to set your flask down? A flask carrier is a handy accessory, especially when dealing with larger flasks. The flask carrier for Ai 50L evaporating flasks (left) is custom-made for the Ai 50L SolventVap series. Silicone cushions help prevent mishaps. For easy loading and unloading, the carrier can be positioned atop the water bath.
If you need to switch between receiving flasks without interrupting your rotary evaporator’s operation, the Dual Receiving Flask Kit for Ai SolventVap 50L (right) can help.
If you’re unable to work under a fumehood, you may want to consider using a safety cover. While it won’t protect against fumes, a safety cover can protect against splashes of hot or corrosive liquid. IKA’s HB 10.1 Shield (left) fits the HB 10 Heating Bath.
Water Supply Accessories
If you’re using a tap water connection, you may want to regulate the water flow. IKA’s water choke valve (left) allows you to reduce the flow and optimize water consumption.
A filter could be a welcome addition to prevent contamination. IKA’s water filter (right) has a removable filter allowing for easy cleaning.
While not an accessory per se, advancing software is worth a mention. Tools such as IKA’s labworldsoft® 6 can offer improvements in many areas. For example, it can help you control laboratory equipment and automate processes. It can also assist in documenting and analyzing measurements and results. Although this particular software is offered by IKA, it can integrate with select devices from other manufacturers too.
There are many options available when it comes to accessories that can enhance your rotary evaporator, streamline your processes, and help you achieve the results you desire in the most efficient and safe manner.
Bear in mind that most of these accessories are manufacturer-specific and often only compatible with select models. As such, if you’re looking to purchase a new rotary evaporator, it’s a good idea to explore accessory options as part of your decision-making process.