Which type of centrifuge is best?



Choosing the right type of centrifuge is crucial for various research, industrial, and medical applications. With numerous types available in the market, it can be challenging to determine which one is best suited for your specific needs. Each type of centrifuge has its own unique features, benefits, and limitations. In this article, we will explore five different types of centrifuges and delve into their functionalities, applications, and advantages. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of which type of centrifuge is best suited for your requirements.


The ultracentrifuge is a highly sophisticated centrifuge commonly used in biochemical, molecular biology, and biophysical research. It is incredibly powerful and widely known for its ability to achieve high speeds and separate particles based on their density. Ultracentrifuges typically operate at speeds exceeding 100,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) and can generate forces of up to 1,000,000 times gravity. This incredible centrifugal force allows scientists to separate small particles, including viruses, proteins, and subcellular components, with exceptional precision.

Ultracentrifuges are ideal for applications such as density gradient centrifugation, where particles of different densities are separated based on their position within a gradient media. This technique is used to isolate and purify biological macromolecules, such as DNA, RNA, and proteins, from complex mixtures. Additionally, ultracentrifuges are invaluable in protein research, enabling the study of molecular interactions, protein folding dynamics, and the determination of sedimentation coefficients.

However, it is important to note that ultracentrifuges require careful handling and are typically only found in well-equipped research laboratories due to their high cost and specialized nature. Additionally, the high speeds and forces involved in ultracentrifugation can lead to sample heating, which may affect the integrity or functionality of sensitive biological molecules. Hence, considerations such as sample temperature control and optimization of centrifugation times are crucial when using ultracentrifuges.


Microcentrifuges, as the name suggests, are specifically designed for handling small sample volumes ranging from 0.2 mL to 2 mL. These centrifuges are widely used in molecular biology, biochemistry, and clinical laboratories for various applications, including DNA and RNA extraction, protein purification, and cell culture work.

One of the primary advantages of microcentrifuges is their compact size, allowing them to fit easily on a laboratory benchtop. They are also relatively affordable compared to larger centrifuges, making them accessible to a wide range of researchers and technicians. Microcentrifuges can reach speeds up to 30,000 rpm, enabling rapid sample sedimentation and pelleting of biomolecules.

Some microcentrifuge models offer advanced features such as refrigeration capabilities, allowing researchers to perform temperature-sensitive experiments. This is particularly beneficial when working with enzymes, proteins, or other biomolecules that require low temperatures to maintain their structure and functionality.

While microcentrifuges are versatile and user-friendly, they have limitations in terms of sample capacity and maximum speed. Therefore, if you are working with a large number of samples or require higher speeds, other types of centrifuges may be more suitable.

Refrigerated Centrifuges:

Refrigerated centrifuges are designed to maintain low temperatures during centrifugation, offering an ideal solution for preserving temperature-sensitive samples. These centrifuges feature built-in refrigeration systems that effectively cool the chamber and prevent sample degradation or denaturation. They are used in various fields, including clinical diagnostics and pharmaceutical research, where temperature control is critical.

Refrigerated centrifuges allow researchers to process and store samples at temperatures well below room temperature, typically ranging from -20°C to +40°C. This temperature range is essential for applications like long-term sample storage, cell culture work, and the centrifugation of heat-labile samples such as enzymes, vaccines, and antibodies.

Furthermore, refrigerated centrifuges often offer a wide selection of rotors, allowing researchers to accommodate different sample sizes and volumes. It is worth noting that some refrigerated centrifuges provide the option of rapid temperature changes to enhance specific applications, such as DNA sequencing or RNA manipulation.

Despite their advantages, refrigerated centrifuges tend to be more expensive compared to their non-refrigerated counterparts. The refrigeration system also adds complexity to the instrument, requiring regular maintenance and periodic calibration to ensure consistent temperature control. However, when working with temperature-sensitive samples, the benefits of using a refrigerated centrifuge outweigh these concerns.

High-Speed Centrifuges:

High-speed centrifuges combine power, speed, and versatility, making them suitable for a wide range of applications in various disciplines. These centrifuges are designed to handle large volumes of samples and provide rapid sedimentation and separation. Their robust capabilities allow for the processing of samples in bulk, making them ideal for industrial and research environments that require high-throughput processing.

High-speed centrifuges can reach speeds of up to 50,000 rpm, enabling efficient separation of particles based on their mass or size. They are commonly used in fields such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and biochemistry for applications like large-scale protein purification, cell harvesting, and microbial cell fractionation.

These centrifuges often come equipped with advanced features such as programmable controls, automated balancing, and rotor recognition systems. These features enhance user convenience and optimize centrifugation settings, enabling precise and reproducible results. Some high-speed centrifuges also have built-in safety mechanisms, including imbalance detection and automatic rotor lid locking, ensuring operator safety during high-speed operation.

While high-speed centrifuges offer tremendous advantages in terms of processing large sample volumes, they can be expensive and require extensive training to operate correctly. Additionally, due to the high centrifugal forces involved, selecting the appropriate rotor and maintaining proper sample balance are crucial to avoid rotor damage or sample loss.

Benchtop Centrifuges:

Benchtop centrifuges refer to compact, tabletop centrifuges commonly found in laboratories, clinics, and academic institutions. These centrifuges are versatile, easy to use, and suitable for a wide range of applications that require small to medium sample volumes.

One of the significant advantages of benchtop centrifuges is their portability and small footprint, allowing researchers to conserve space in the laboratory. They are often equipped with user-friendly interfaces and programmable controls, ensuring effortless operation and reducing the risk of user error. Benchtop centrifuges commonly reach speeds of up to 15,000 rpm, enabling efficient separation and pelleting of samples.

These centrifuges find applications in various fields, including clinical diagnostics, blood banking, and microbiology. They facilitate processes such as centrifugal filtration, separation of blood components, and isolation of specific cell populations. Some benchtop centrifuges also include features like lid locking during operation, ensuring user safety and preventing accidental sample spills or rotor damage.

While benchtop centrifuges have limitations in terms of speed and sample capacity compared to larger models, their convenience, affordability, and ease of use make them a popular choice for many laboratories and clinical settings.


Choosing the right type of centrifuge for your specific needs is essential to ensure efficient and accurate results in your research, medical, or industrial processes. Each type of centrifuge offers unique advantages and is designed for specific applications, speeds, and sample capacities.

Ultracentrifuges provide unmatched performance and precision in separating particles based on their density, making them ideal for highly specialized research applications. Microcentrifuges offer portability and versatility for handling small samples, while refrigerated centrifuges ensure temperature-controlled centrifugation for temperature-sensitive samples. High-speed centrifuges cater to industrial-scale processing, and benchtop centrifuges provide convenience and user-friendly operation in laboratory and clinical settings.

When determining which type of centrifuge is best for you, consider factors such as your application requirements, sample volume, speed range, and budget. Consulting with experts and evaluating specific instrument features will further assist you in making an informed decision. Ultimately, selecting the right centrifuge will enhance the efficiency and productivity of your work, driving successful outcomes in your scientific or industrial endeavors.


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