In this interview, AZoM talks to George Adjabeng about the revolutionary modern rotovap, Ecodyst Hydrogen, and how it supersedes traditional rotovap models.
What makes Ecodyst’s new Modern Rotary Evaporator different from existing rotary evaporators?
One of the major deterrents to the efficacy of the performance of rotary evaporators is the material waste and costs associated with them, which comes from the use of water or dry ice. Ecodyst’s Modern Rotary Evaporator has a constant, on-demand self-cooling technology that does not require water or dry ice. This truly remarkable innovation delivers rotovaps with superior performance and no associated operational costs.
Our chemical-resistant metal condenser technology replaces the traditional glass condenser. As metal is both stronger and more conductive than glass, it allows our devices to have a refrigeration line that is directly connected to the condenser coils.
This makes our systems the environmentally friendly choice, as they do not sink significant energy into cooling an entire antifreeze line, running thousands of gallons of tap water a year, or wasting dry ice. Their efficiency allows a smaller footprint equipment design, which is very useful for labs where space is limited. This change also means that discovery chemists don’t need to spend hours monitoring dry ice supplies. In addition, our efficient condenser reaches -40C in under a minute, compared to 45 minutes for recirculating chillers.
What makes metal a good material for rotary evaporator condensers when compared with traditional glass ones?
Metal is a good conductor of heat which is very compatible with the condensers. Another merit of metal as compared to the traditional glass ones is because, the metal is durable and has a broad surface area, which allows for customization. Glass has been the traditional choice for rotovap condensers for 60 years, as it is inert to most chemicals found in chemistry labs. However, glass has a huge weakness when used in condensation: It is a poor conductor of heat, meaning rotary evaporators need flawed solutions to overcome the poor heat exchange of the glass condenser.
Glass condensers can be cooled by using dry ice, running tap water, or by using a glycol recirculating chiller. However, all of these options have serious disadvantages. Tap water cannot be effectively chilled, so water-cooled coils require enormous amounts of running water. Dry ice requires chemists to expend hours of manual labor each week storing and loading dry ice by hand. Recirculating chillers are bulky and struggle to maintain cold temperatures in the face of heavy vapor loads.
We solved this glass problem with metal condensers that are coated in polymers impervious to even the most corrosive chemicals. That simple change opened a world of possibilities that allowed us to invent high-performance, modern rotovaps with small footprints and achieve superior advantages compared to traditional rotary evaporators.
In addition, our metal condensers can be directly cooled by the pressurized refrigerant, eliminating the recirculating chiller, antifreeze, water, and dry ice while drastically increasing cooling capacity and heat exchange rates. Since our systems don’t have to expend vast energy cooling an entire line of antifreeze, they much more energy-efficient and can reach -40C within one minute compared to 45 minutes for traditional recirculating chillers.
In short, a metal condenser results in a modern rotovap that is smaller and more powerful, while using far less energy.
One benefit of the new modern rotary evaporator is how simple and easy to use it is, why was this important to you?
Aside from our superior quality and design, the new modern rotovap includes customer-desired features, ensuring that scientists operate and work efficiently without the time-consuming experiences of traditional rotovaps that slow down productivity.
I spent many years as a drug discovery scientist, becoming increasingly frustrated with traditional rotary evaporators. I saw labs with budgets for broken glassware, filled to the brim with bulky equipment, and Ph.D. chemists who spent their workday loading dry ice or changing antifreeze like car mechanics. Rotary evaporators have not seen much innovation since they were created. Every year, I would see rotary evaporator companies creating machines that were more and more complex (new LCD touchscreens, fancy housings, basic automation options, larger glass condensers, additional equipment) but that never made any substantive changes to the main point points and ease of operation.
All that inefficiency slows the speed of research and discovery and the creation of life-changing compounds. Why should a scientist conducting research to discover new cancer drugs spend any time looking for dry ice or changing antifreeze? I was frustrated with the existing rotovap technology and thought that there had to be a better solution, so I invented and patented the modern rotovap that is easier to use, more convenient, reliable, and saves time. I wanted to create a system that facilitated research and accelerate the path to discovery rather than slow it down.
Why do you think a more efficient solution has not been found in the past?
Innovation and continuous improvement take time, effort, and other resources. This can only be done by those willing and having the tenacity to go the extra mile to impact positively. There have not been many people in the past who were willing to tread this path. Ecodyst is the game-changer bringing new light to what could not be. We are the pacesetters.
I think that society believes complexity is innovation. Traditional rotary evaporator companies like Heidolph and Buchi have been focused on superficial, incremental changes to their systems, and perhaps they lack deep insight into customer actual pain points. That change might be a new touchscreen, or an automatic lift that makes glassware more accessible, or better data monitoring. All of these changes may be beneficial, but they ignore the glaring flaws of their basic design: The need to move glassware by hand, the inefficient chilling/condensation, the suspended flask prone to “bumping” solution over into the condensation unit, etc.
I think that real innovation is solving a problem in a manner that solves the complex issues but presents the user with simplicity of operation, and I wanted to create a rotary evaporator that reflected this philosophy. My goal was to make a device that truly made research easier, rather than making it frustrating. Research is hard enough; devices should not make it harder.
What makes the new all-in-one rotary evaporator adequate to replace a traditional rotary evaporator and a chiller?
The Ecodyst All-In-One Hydrogen is superior to all traditional rotary evaporators and chillers because it merges all the elements of the traditional systems, which is comprised of a chiller, a rotovap one complete with a unique and more efficient self-cooling technology, and a record-breaking small footprint. It cuts rates of evaporation in half compared to traditional rotovap.
To me, it’s not a question of being adequate. It’s a question of whether our modern rotovap improves upon older designs. By any metric you choose, Ecodyst systems outperform. Better solvent recovery rates? Yes. Smaller footprint? Yes. More efficient electricity usage? Yes, often half that of traditional systems. Eliminate labor from loading dry ice, moving glassware? Yes. Eliminate 45 minute warmup times for recirculating chillers? Yes. Hassle-free self-cooling condenser? Yes. To be honest, I think the real question is: “Are traditional rotary evaporators adequate?”
Is the new condenser system more efficient than tap water or dry ice?
Not only is the new condenser system more efficient than tap water or dry ice, but it is also very cost-efficient, preserving precious water, eliminating water bills and the cost of dry ice. This huge chatter of providing value for money is rare but Ecodyst’s new condenser systems have proven beyond time that it is possible to provide value and quality for money. And for labs needing to buy the additional recirculating chiller equipment needed to use glycol/water, this is also avoided, which saves money for both upfront capital investment and maintenance cost. I believe that one way to solve a problem is by elimination and our new condenser technology achieves that by eliminating water, dry ice and chiller.
Dry ice is not always available, which quickly translates into downtime that negatively impacts productivity, which makes dry ice use unreliable and unstainable
Finally, the new condenser technology’s biggest promise is its cost savings on the dry ice order. The Ecodyst technology saves on the actual dry ice cost and shipping cost, not to mention saving the planet from the truck emissions associated with driving and delivering dry ice and releasing CO2 from dry ice into the atmosphere. Dry ice must be loaded into the rotovap by scientists, which is a significant expense in labor and planning and lost time that can be devoted to more complex tasks. As it is a potentially hazardous substance, it also requires monitoring and protocols from Environment, Health, and Safety teams.
Is the new rotary evaporator more environmentally friendly than traditional rotary evaporators?
Yes, the new rotary evaporator is very energy efficient. the improvement is environmentally friendly when compared with traditional rotary evaporators that do not conserve energy. Regardless of the chilling method used, glass coil condensers already represent a significant waste of energy. Dry ice, tap water, and recirculating chillers are all severely curtailed by the poor heat exchange of glass.
Dry ice represents a significant energy sink that loses much of its cooling capacity to the ambient temperature. Running thousands of gallons of tap water a year (for just one system) is clearly unacceptable, especially in drought-prone areas. The public is aware of the sustainability problems with tap-water usage for labs, so most companies have stopped using this technology. Recirculating chillers waste huge amounts of energy to keep an entire line of antifreeze cold and take up significant premium laboratory bench space.
By eliminating an antifreeze chiller and increasing the efficiency of the system with self-cooling technology, Ecodyst is clearly the green option for chemists. The new rotovap is environmentally friendly, energy-efficient, reliable, and sustainable.
Does the new rotary evaporator have any associated operational costs?
The new rotary evaporator conserves energy, maximum space utilization, and its efficiency is second to none. The use of dry ice, which possesses huge operational costs, is completely eliminated. With these tangible benefits and many more, the new rotary evaporator does not have any associated operational costs. The only operational cost is the cost of a small amount of electricity the new rotovap uses. There are many hidden costs associated with traditional rotary evaporators that our system eliminates such as dry ice shortages, slow rates of evaporation, productivity downtime and man-hours. That’s not even mentioning the high material waste and cost (in electricity, water bill, or dry ice cost and/or the cost of additional recirculating chiller equipment.
Which applications will benefit from this new model?
Chemistry laboratories and industries performing chemistry, including labs in the chemical, pharmaceutical, environmental, materials, life science, and cannabis industries. Key applications include sample concentration, solvent recycling, extractions, and separation of solvent mixtures. Academic, government and industries performing some form of science that requires a rotovap will benefit from this new modern rotovap model.
Academic, government and discovery chemistry in the pharmaceutical sector and the cannabis industry are already benefiting from Ecodyst’s wide range of products and this new model expands on the benefits. This is particularly useful for companies in cities where lab space is costly and access to dry ice is difficult.
Where do you see this technology going in the future?
We are in the future where this new Ecodyst’s technology is already changing the status-quo with tons of testimonies from renounced scientists from the likes of Professor Joseph DeSimone, Professor Richmond Sarpong amongst others. We have already made significant inroads into the cannabis and CBD manufacturing space, which will continue as both manufactured products become legalized globally.
Our all-in-one Hydrogen modern rotary evaporator sets a new standard for rotovaps and is changing the way people see rotovaps. This will ultimately become the standard rotovap in labs and industries worldwide. I see a future where this self-cooling rotovap technology replaces all water, dry ice and chiller rotovaps in the world. In the future, it will be odd to purchase a traditional rotovap that has associated material waste.
Think about it – by replacing dry ice rotovap with this modern rotovap, it pays for itself within a few years from the dry ice savings alone. This technology makes so much sense so much that we’re often asked this question: why hasn’t this been done before? The use of traditional rotovaps is like how our ancestors were preserving food before refrigerators. Another example of the contrast between traditional rotovaps and ecodyst rotovaps is like wall-mounted phones and smart mobile phones. Right now you cannot operate a traditional rotovap without water, dry ice or antifreeze but with Ecodyst’s modern rotovap it’s on-demand available with the flick of a switch.
About George Adjabeng
George Adjabeng is a Ghanaian-American scientist, inventor and entrepreneur with a passion for innovating for fundamental changes that positively impact lives in the world. Prior to co-founding Ecodyst with Kwabena Williams, George spent a decade in the pharmaceutical industry as a research scientist where he was a discoverer of the cancer drug, Tafinlar. In 2014, George and Kwabena founded Ecodyst to design, manufacture and distribute intelligent self-cooling modern rotovaps that do not require water, dry ice, or external glycol chiller.