Tag Archives: centrifuge

A centrifuge costing 20 cents based on a toy

Scientists at Stanford have developed a centrifuge costing 20 cents to make, based on a child’s toy, that can be used in the field to separate blood samples.

According to Stanford, Prakash and post-doctoral fellow Saad Bhamla came up with the “paperfuge” while looking at toys like tops and yo-yos for inspiration. Noticing how the disc of a whirligig spins when the cords on either side are pulled, they decided to make a slow motion video of one, only to discover that it rotated at 10,000 to 15,000 RPM.

The pair started developing prototypes using a blood capillary tube mounted on a paper disc, but they went beyond simple tinkering as they recruited three undergraduate engineering students from MIT and Stanford to create mathematical models of how the whirligig could change a pulling motion into a rotary motion. Looking at variables like disc size, string elasticity, and pulling force, they combined this with equations from the physics of supercoiling DNA to gain a better understanding of the whirligig’s mechanism.

The result was a centrifuge made of 20 cents of paper, twine, and plastic that could spin at 125,000 RPM, generate 3,000 G’s, and process samples in 1.5 minutes.

I have embedded a video explaining the paperfuge below the fold. I wonder if a variation of this on ISS could do low gravity experiments.
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Russians to put first centrifuge on ISS

Russia today announced that they are developing and plan to launch the first small centrifuge ever to fly in space.

The centrifuge would be installed on an inflatable module that Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems, which specializes in studying the medical problems of space travel, is building, and would be used to study the effects of artificial gravity in weightlessness.

Unfortunately, the announcement doesn’t tell us much more than this. Based on previous such announcements from Russia, I would not be surprised if this project never flies.

ISS to finally get an experimental centrifuge

At last! The ISS is to finally going to get an experimental centrifuge.

I have studied at length all the research done on all the space station ever launched, from Skylab, all the Russian Salyut stations, Mir, and now ISS, and from I could tell, only once was a centrifuge experiment put in space, by the Russians. Though the centrifuge was small and the results inconclusive, they suggested that even the addition of a truly miniscule amount of force could significantly mitigate the effects of weightlessness on plants and materials.

To finally get an experimental centrifuge on ISS is wonderful news. In order to build an interplanetary spaceship as cheaply and as efficiently as possible using centrifugal force to create artificial gravity we need to know the minimum amount of centrifugal force we need. Less energy will probably require less complex engineering, which should also require less launch weight to orbit, lowering the cost in all ways.