In this interview, Dr. Niels Weidmann reveals his experiences with the innovative VACUU·PURE® vacuum pump. He was among the first users to test the new vacuum technology in everyday laboratory use. As a former PhD student, Weidmann was conducting research in organometallic chemistry under the guidance of Prof. Knochel at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich.
What research are you doing?
Dr. Weidmann: Our group mainly focuses on the preparation and handling of reactive metalorganic reagents and their use in industrial and pharmaceutical applications. For more than 3 years, my focus has concentrated on the generation of highly reactive organolithium, sodium and potassium species in a continuous flow setup. The merging of continuous flow technology and metalorganic chemistry offers huge advantages in respect of safer handling and precise time-control of highly reactive intermediates.
For which processes do you use VACUU·PURE?
Dr. Weidmann: We mainly used the new vacuum pump for drying our products using a Schlenk line after the purification process. In addition, we also used it to carefully remove some volatile reagents from our reaction mixture. For example, we were able to evaporate DMSO and Thionyl Chloride using the VACUU·PURE without the need for any additional cooling traps.
How was VACUU·PURE installed?
Dr. Weidmann: VACUUBRAND showed us how to install VACUU·PURE. The pump only required a simple tubing connection to the vacuum line. There was no need for any additional cooling traps or special equipment to be installed, just a vacuum gauge that we connected to the top part of the pump. In fact, everything was set up within a few minutes.
What technology was used before?
Dr. Weidmann: We immediately recognized how easy it was to use VACUU·PURE especially compared to the rotary vane pump that we had previously used. Beforehand, every year we had to completely exchange the oil and check all of our pumps in the laboratories. Now with VACUU·PURE, we no longer need to do this. To be honest, I was not complaining about our rotary vane pumps, but since using the new vacuum pump, I realize that it simply makes our daily work much easier.
What are the advantages of VACUU·PURE?
Dr. Weidmann: With the new pump, there was no need to have cooling traps within the fume hood anymore. For me that was especially helpful, as I need to keep my flow machine inside the fume hood and the space is of course limited. Removing the cooling trap offered more working space within the fume hood. Even taking into account that the pump seems to be a little bit taller compared to the rotary vane pump, removing the cold traps made working in the fume hood far more efficient. Additionally, there was no need now to get dry ice for the cooling traps every morning which is not only a practical consideration, but also had a cost and safety implication since the risk of condensing liquid oxygen in our traps was completely eradicated.
One other thing that was a significant consideration for us is previously drying our products over night was not possible until we tested the new VACUU·PURE pump. Since there is no oil in the pump to come into direct contact with the evaporated solvent or reagent, I was able to let it run over night for weeks without any problems at all. In fact, all my colleagues were a little bit jealous if I’m honest and came to me to dry their products over night as well.
How is the cooperation with VACUUBRAND?
Dr. Weidmann: All together, our group has been using VACUUBRAND pumps for more than twenty years now. Some of the pumps are still the first generation that we bought for our group when we first moved to Munich in 1999 and they are still working. The maintenance and service is always fast and reliable and the regular annual maintenance check has ensured a long life time of our pumps. We were really glad to be able to contribute towards the development of the new VACUU·PURE from the perspective of an academic user and we look forward to more collaborations in future.
We thank the Ludwig Maximilian University and Dr. Niels Weidmann for the interview.