4 Key Differences between Filtration and Centrifugation

I’m always looking to collaborate and explore ideas with others in our filtration technology business. Happily, director of Oriental Manufacturers Jigar Patel, has offered this guest blog discussing differences between filtration and liquid solid centrifugation. I hope you enjoy Patel’s perspective:

liquid solid centrifugation
Photo by gemmerich on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Filtration and centrifugation are two distinct separation techniques used for isolating the required components from the mixture. The major difference between the techniques is the nature of the force employed and the separation method used. While filtration uses a sieve or filter media to strain undesired constituents, centrifugation leverages the power of the centrifugal force for the separation.

What is Filtration?

Filtration is a physical separation technique, by pressure, vacuum or gravity, used for segregating one or more components from a mixture for different applications. Depending on the application, the process may employ one or multiple metal perforated layers or filter mesh for solid-liquid separation. 

What is Centrifugation? 

Centrifugation is a process that employs a centrifugal force to separate the elements of the liquid slurry.  The remaining liquid (supernatant) is then transferred from the centrifuge tube or removed without disturbing the precipitate. The precipitating particles left behind depend on the speed of the machine, the shape and size of the particles and their volume, viscosity, and density.

4 Major Differences between Filtration and Centrifugation

#1 Nature of Operation 

  • Filtration 

Large particles in a mixture are unable to pass through the perforated layers of the filter. Yet fluids and small particles easily pass through the filter mesh under the pressure, vacuum, or gravitational force. 

  • Liquid Solid Centrifugation 

The centrifugal machine forces the heavier solids to the bottom creating a firm cake. The lighter mixture that stays above the cake is then decanted. 

#2 Separation Techniques

  • Filtration 

Filtration uses different techniques depending on the expected outcome which can be classified as pressure, vacuum, or gravitational.

  • Centrifugation 

Centrifugation techniques can be classified as micro-centrifuges, high-speed centrifuges and ultra-centrifugations. Microcentrifuge is typically used for research studies that require the processing of biological molecules in very small volumes. High-speed centrifugal machines are designed to handle bigger batches and are mainly used for processing industrial mixtures on a large scale. The ultra-centrifugation technique is used to study the properties of biological particles.

#3 Function 

  • Filtration 

The main function of filtration is getting the desired output by eliminating impurities from any given liquid or isolating solids from a mixture. 

  • Centrifugation 

The main purpose of centrifugation is fast, efficient separation of solids from a liquid solution or slurry.

#4 Efficiency 

  • Filtration 

Simple filtration techniques take time separating the desired materials, which makes the separation method less efficient. 

  • Centrifugation 

Centrifugation techniques employ machines that run with the aid of power, so the separation method is faster and more efficient. 

Both filtration and centrifugation are solid-liquid separation techniques that use different equipment and have different applications.

My two cents: Deciding which one is best suited to your process will take work. No matter the process in question, engineers are well served by taking the time to gather the information, make their own comparisons, and then develop a process solution.

Thanks to Jigar Patel. The director of Oriental Manufacturers believes in the power of good functional designs and their ability to boost productivity and drive growth. Fueled by his passion for innovation and all things EPC, Jigar writes on topics related to process plant equipments, process machinery production, turnkey solutions, best industry practices, liquid solid centrifugation, and his personal insights!‌

Keep the sharing going — let me know what you want to write about in this spot next!

What Are Process Engineering Responsibilities in Technical Sales

technical sales description
Image source

With graduation season coming there will be many chemical engineers on the market looking for their first jobs.  There are many opportunities with operating companies, engineering companies, startups, venture capitalists (yes, engineers in the financial industry), and consulting firms. Nevertheless, my first choice is sales, so let’s flesh out a technical sales description.

Why technical sales? It’s an interesting field for process engineers for several reasons as you get the opportunity to:

  • Combine technical expertise with people skills  and business knowledge to help customers solve problems
  • Define customer’s technical requirements
  • Explain, test, and demonstrate the company’s products to meet the requirements and solve the customer’s problems
  • Employ a flexible approach to technical/commercial situations
  • Interact with a variety of people and positions

The best process engineers for technical sales possess a desire to get involved in the business aspects of many different industries/application and are willing to cultivate long-term selling relationships with varied types of people.

But Will I Still be a Process Engineer?

In school you learned all of the technical skills. Now, in technical sales, you use all of your process engineering skills. How so?

  • Selling requires logical analysis and documentation to the client to make them feel comfortable with the product
  • Performing calculations allows you to be successful in risk taking and feel confident in your decisions
  • Continuing to trouble shoot the process and solve difficult problems even after you have sold the equipment

Graduating with the technical skills under control, there are certain attributes that can help you transition to a technical sales role as a process engineer. Those looking to hire you for technical sales will want to see:

  • Are you a good listener?
  • Are you motivated?
  • Do you have thick-skin so that if the client is not satisfied you can accept criticisms?
  • Can you be part of a team?
  • Are you a good writer?
  • Do you like to be in front of people making presentations?
  • Are you both curious and creative?

My Path to Technical Sales

I embarked on this career path with degrees in chemistry and environmental science and technology.  I joined the US Environmental Protection  Agency in 1976 when we were a young agency.  I did air sampling (clean shaven and no beard) and rule development and was able to learn about many industries and applications.  After getting by MBA at night (over four long years), I joined Pall Corporation in technical marketing.  This role was fun, creative but now here I am working with BHS-Sonthofen. Some 35 years later, technical sales and marketing are ingrained in my psyche.

Know that you have my thoughts on shaping a technical sales description, let me know if I can help you with your career decisions and training.  Good hunting.