What is centrifugation?

November 1, 2021

It is a process used in laboratories to separate solids from liquids with different densities by means of a rotating force provided by a machine called a centrifuge.

What is it?

It is a method that allows solids to be separated from liquids of different density using a rotating force provided by a machine called a centrifuge. This equipment gives the mixture a rotary movement that creates a force that causes the solids and particles of higher density to settle.

Centrifugal force manifests itself in bodies that develop a curved path. The centrifuge takes advantage of this force to separate items or to dry something.

The centrifuge accelerates the sedimentation or decantation process of the phases of a mixture. This is possible due to the different entities of the components. The solids that can be separated by this machine are insoluble, that is, they do not form solutions with the liquid. Centrifugation is one of the unit operations for the separation of insoluble solids.

When a centrifugal field is applied to the mixture of liquids and insoluble solids, the particles move in the fluid by the action of acceleration, outside the axis of rotation of the centrifuge while the less dense components move towards the axis of rotation. Thus, the sediment can be precipitated at the bottom of the test tube.

Types of centrifugation

Differential centrifugation

It is one that is based on the difference in density of the molecules. This must be large so that it can be observed when centrifuging. Particles with similar densities settle together – this method is nonspecific so it is used as a preparative centrifugation to separate components in the mixture.

Isopycnic centrifugation

Separates particles with the same sedimentation coefficient by using media with different density.

Zonal centrifugation

The particles are separated by the difference in sedimentation rate due to the difference in mass of each. The sample is placed on a preformed density gradient and uses the speed of centrifugal force so that the particles settle on the gradient based on their mass.


It uses rotors and monitoring systems that control the sedimentation of the particles by means of ultraviolet light or interferons.

Dr. Loony Davis5
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Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
I am a person with great restlessness and curiosity to learn, discover what I do not know, as well as reinvent myself daily, someone who is curious about life and wants to know. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
This is my personal project but I also collaborate in other blogs, it is the case, the most important web on water currently exists in the US, if you are interested you can read my articles here.

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