The tubular centrifuge is used primarily for the continuous separation of liquids from liquids or of very fine particles from liquids, although in some cases it is employed as a batch-type centrifuge. In general, it is used when higher centrifugal fields are required for separation. The rotating bowl of a tubular centrifuge consists of a long hollow tube (length many times its diameter) as shown schematically in above picture. For continuous separation the feed or material to be centrifuged enters at one end near the axis and is removed in two streams containing the separated material.
Many different designs for the internal structure of the tube are employed, but, in general, radial vanes are used to bring the feed material up to speed and to slow down the separated streams before they are discharged. The centrifuge is driven by a high-speed motor. The sedimentation takes place as the fluid flows from one end of the tube to the other. When the heavy material consists of very fine particles or molecules and the concentration is very low, the solid material is usually allowed to deposit on the wall. In this case the machine is operated as a batch centrifuge.
The tubular centrifuge is finding an increasing number of applications because of the high centrifugal fields that may be used (15,000g near the periphery in some cases). A few typical uses are as follows:
━ the purification of vaccines (uncentrifuged vaccines contain a large amount of nonessential and harmful material),
━ purification of lubricating and industrial oils,
━ clarification and purification of food products such as essential oils, extracts, and fruit juices, and
━ separation of immiscible liquids that cannot be separated by gravity.