How can I improve the performance of my jacketed lab reactor condenser?

If your condenser is struggling to contain all the vapour generated in your jacketed reaction vessel, there are a number of steps you can take.

Ensure your condenser is large enough

It’s important to use a condenser that is an appropriate size for your equipment and application, e.g. vessel size.  Here at Radleys we offer a wide range of condensers with different surface areas, and we can also make custom condensers if required. Please contact us and we’ll be happy to advise.

Use appropriate cooling water, e.g. use a suitable chiller set correctly

Ensure you have sufficient cooling water for the condenser.  It may be helpful to use a chiller, if you do not have a suitable chilled water supply (e.g. tap water is too warm).  If you do use a chiller, make sure it has enough cooling power to effectively condense the chemical vapours.  Note that cooling power decreases with set temperature, so it may actually help to increase the temperature the chiller is set to to obtain more cooling power whilst maintaining a large enough temperature difference.  We often recommend +15⁰C; at -20⁰C the chiller will have little cooling power!

Minimise the amount of chemical vapour generated

Do not apply excessive heat to the reaction vessel.  There is no benefit to overheating, as the temperature cannot exceed the solvent boiling point – you simply generate more chemical vapour to be condensed.  If you are refluxing, make sure you aren’t using reactor control (setting temperature via a Pt100 probe in the vessel) and setting the temperature higher than the boiling point, or the jacket temperature could keep increasing in an attempt to raise the reactor temperature, producing too much vapour.  Furthermore, ensure any exothermic reactions are controlled, e.g. by using AVA software.