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The Safe Use of Magnetic Bead Separation Systems in Production Facilities

Large magnetic systems create potentially high risk environments in terms of safety during a magnetic separation process. These systems generate large magnetic fields which result in the generation of large stray fields. The stray fields affect the surrounding environment and can attract ferromagnetic objects, potentially injuring system operators. The larger the system, the higher the risk, especially if workers do not follow Health and Safety protocols.

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As a result, large costly safety areas are necessary to help protect the safety of workers with non-homogenous magnetic bead devices. Homogenous Magnetic Bead Separation systems, on the other hand are intrinsically safe, generating very small stray fields that alleviate the necessity for large safety zones.

Safety zones

The use of magnetic systems always requires that two zones of safety be defined:

  • Caution area: This is where the magnetic field B > 0.5 mT. In the caution area magnetic recording systems such as computers, credit cards and tapes as well as people with pace makers are banned.

  • Danger area: This is where the magnetic field B > 3 mT. In the danger area, in order to avoid accidents, ferromagnetic tools are banned because they can be attracted by these strong stray fields. In addition, if several magnetic separators are used, their danger areas cannot intersect.

Unfortunately, space is costly and at a premium in the Life Sciences. If clean room facilities are needed, space is even more costly. Since this is the case, the aim should be to minimize the amount of space a system needs for its caution and danger areas.

Classic Magnetic Bead Separators and magnet blocks have large stray fields due to the openness of their structure. The danger and caution areas increase as the size of the apparatus increase. But the size of the mandatory safety areas increase faster than the working volume, so more floor space is necessary for the danger and caution areas in order to comply with EHS regulations.

Advantages of homogeneous Magnetic Bead Separation systems

In contrast, the closed structure of homogenous biomagnetic separation systems such as SEPMAG systems, concentrates the magnetic energy in the working area with very minimal stray fields. The danger and caution areas are very small – a few centimeters or inches around the device – regardless of the size of the system. Several systems can be placed side by side and even computers can be placed in close proximity to these systems.

Therefore in addition to the clear technical advantages of a homogenous Magnetic Bead Separation system (e.g. no material losses, shorter separation time, easy resuspension, monitoring capability), these systems such as SEPMAG do not need large dedicated areas of the facility. This is highly cost effective and allows other production equipment to fit in the same area.

If you found this post about using Magnetic Bead Separation for production useful, don’t forget to check these related posts:

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Lluis M. Martínez | SEPMAG Chief Scientific Officer

Founder of SEPMAG, Lluis holds a PhD in Magnetic Materials by the UAB. He has conducted research at German and Spanish academic institutions. Having worked in companies in Ireland, USA and Spain, he has more than 20 years of experience applying magnetic materials and sensors to industrial products and processes. He has filed several international patents on the field and co-authored more than 20 scientific papers, most of them on the subject of magnetic particle movement.

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