A desiccator is a good place to organize and store products that are sensitive to humidity. The desiccator cabinet also provides dust-free and clean storage environment that is needed for sensitive materials that are stored and used in a laboratory.
There are 5 general types of desiccators and they are made for different purposes and requirements.
The Regular Desiccator
This is also known as a desiccant chamber where a desiccant like silica gel beads can be used to absorb moisture from the enclosure. Desiccants come in a canister or reusable cartridges. The good thing about this desiccator is that it is economical and inexpensive, while desiccants can be regenerated through an oven or microwave. Regeneration requires the desiccant to dry up again. The con for this type of desiccator is that it needs to be monitored and replaced timely to maintain the dry environment inside. Silica gel works at a lower absorption rate if the temperatures are higher.
This device can regenerate desiccants as needed by using a fan or an electrical heater to prevent moisture from saturating in the desiccator. It is automatic and manual monitoring isn’t required. It uses silica gel, so the dehumanization process is slow.
Gas Purge Desiccator
There is a constant flow of inert gas like compressed dry air or dry nitrogen to maintain lower levels of humidity. A flow-meter controls the flow. They achieve lower humidity levels faster than desiccant based equipment and have large sized cabinets or shelves. The RH% can go as low as 0%. If the flow of gas is increased, it can get dry inside pretty fast. Such desiccators keep a clean dust-free environment without much manual intervention, although monitoring is manually done. Oxygen deficiency can be a risk if nitrogen is released and proper ventilation is required.
Automated Gas Purge Desiccator
This is the same as the one above, but the difference is that this is automated. There is an automatically controlled purge system that monitors the RH% and adjusts the gas flow.
This removes air from the chamber using a vacuum pump. If there isn’t any air, there won’t be air with moisture. Vacuum desiccators come in form of jars and cabinets. They are ideal for extremely dry environments with minimum levels of oxygen. However, these desiccators have limited capacity for shelving and storage.
Each of the desiccator types hasits own pros and cons. Price, operation, storage, monitoring, size and speed are some of the features that have been discussed above. So, if you want the cheapest option, a regular desiccator should do. The operation of the desiccators can depend on a desiccant, inert gas or vacuum. All these items have their own pros and cons. A desiccant needs constant monitoring and replacement, although it can be regenerated. Vacuum and inert gases may not have to be monitored while being used to purge the container, but at least the gas cannot be regenerated. The cost involving these elements will also determine your choice. Jar-shaped desiccators have lesser storage space but also can be easily stored by themselves in a tiny amount of space.
Each desiccator hasits pros and cons and can fulfill your need based on what you want.