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Understanding the Different Types of Laboratory Vacuum Pumps

Vacuum pumps are an essential piece of equipment for people working in the laboratory and doing experiments or research. However, different vacuum pumps are more suitable for specific uses, so choose the right one for your needs. Noticeably, the past decade or so has seen a huge improvement in technology, which has led to the development of innovations in vacuum technology. As a result, you now have to be more critical about your decision and consider various factors to find the right vacuum pump.

Knowing each type of laboratory vacuum pump will help you decipher which one will be best for your desired application. Here, you will find the necessary information on different types of pumps, as well as the best function for each. Typically, the type you choose will depend on the kind of vacuum you need, though price and technology may also play a factor.

Rotary Vane

Rotary vane (RV) vacuum pumps are known to be the most commonly used type since they are compatible with various applications. However, they use oil to operate and require frequent oil changes, which can make the maintenance more costly and time-consuming. Ideally, once you notice a change in the color of the oil, it is a sign that you need to replace it. The lifespan of the pump can depend on how well you maintain the oil and the equipment as a whole. Make sure you check out the manufacturer’s manual to see how often you need to change the worn parts. Overall, RV pumps are highly suitable for freeze-drying applications since they can reach deep levels.


Diaphragm vacuum pumps use a rotating piston opening and closing valves to move air, effectively removing the need for oil. It is often resistant to corrosion due to the chemicals contained in the valves. Though this type of pump may have a bigger upfront cost, you can end up spending less in the long term since you do not need oil. Overall, diaphragm pumps are ideal for a wide variety of samples, including those that contain acids and solvents. However, they are not deep enough for freeze-drying.

Combination or Hybrid

Combination or hybrid vacuum pumps, as the name suggests, contain a diaphragm and RV pump in a single pump. The former keeps the oil in the RV pump at negative pressure to eliminate or reduce the amount of vapor that condenses. This way, the oil stays clean for a longer time, and you need not replace it too often. Though the hybrid laboratory vacuum pump will undeniably be more expensive than RV pump, the maintenance costs will be significantly lower since you will do oil replacements fewer times.


Scroll pumps use two scroll plates to compress the air and vapor and move them towards the pump’s exhaust. Similar to diaphragm pumps, they have a higher upfront cost, but maintenance costs are less since you do not need oil to operate them. However, you also need to replace their wear parts at specified intervals, which can depend on the manufacturer. The ideal recommendation is to use this pump for acids below 20%, though freeze-drying is suitable for this type of pump. Noticeably, scroll pumps are also quieter during operation.