Any small magnetic separation rack (i.e. the types used to develop a prototype product before scaling up) generates magnetic fields that decay rapidly with distance. However, scaling up the process can be problematic because the size of the classical magnetic separation rack itself grows rapidly with desired batch volume. Because the magnetic field profile and the magnetic force are not the same in a larger device, the safety of users and the safety of ancillary equipment can become a serious issue.
This post is about biomagnetic separation with a magnetic separation rack, and how to scale-up this process. If you are interested in this topic, download our free ebook The Basic Guide to Scale-up Biomagnetic Separation Processes:
Risk zones for a magnetic separation rack
Risk can be divided into two major zones:
- Caution Zone: For fields > 0.5 mT (5 Gauss), ancillary equipment such as pacemakers, computers, magnetic recording media, credit cards and other such devices are at risk of being destroyed or altered. For this reason, MRI areas in hospitals will always warn you not to bring any electronics into a specified region surrounding the MRI system. A similar low level equipment risk area needs to be cordoned off for large classical magnetic separation racks.
- Danger Zone: Fields > 3 mT (30 Gauss) pose a serious risk of mechanical injury for people working near the biomagnetic separation device. Ferromagnetic objects are strongly attracted by a field this strong and will move toward the magnet at increasing force and speed that can seriously injure a person in the path of the object. Since classical biomagnetic separation racks increase magnetic force quickly as you approach the magnet, there is very little time to react when you hold an ferromagnetic object (as scissors, screwdrivers or other magnet) and this is attached to the magnet. You have a highly chance that your hand, fingers or other part of the body keep trapped between the object and the magnetic separation rack, become seriously injured due the high forces involved.
Going against dangerous magnetic fields
The most obvious way to decrease these potentially dangerous stray magnetic fields is to use a closed system so that the risk is confined to a very small area immediately surrounding the magnetic device. Unlike classical biomagnetic separation racks advanced biomagnetic separation systems such as SEPMAG have been designed to reduce the caution and danger zones as much as possible, thus decreasing the lab space necessary for operating your system and increasing safety for workers.
Don't forget to check these posts from our blog in order to get a deeper insight into the scaling-up of biomagnetic separation processes:
- The secret to avoid magnetic bead (and biomolecule) separation losses when scaling up
- Scaling Biomagnetic Separation Process avoiding irreversible aggregation problems
- Permanent magnets vs. Electromagnets: considerations for scaling up magnetic beads separation processes