Build a Rotovap

Rotovaps, without question, are expensive. Most people don’t have pockets deep enough to straight out buy one, but if you have a lathe and some time, i think it’s easily doable. On “The Thought Emporium” YouTube channel, there is a video about making the “Roto” part of the Rotovap. It’s a great video, though i believe that we can finish the project here. I think that the final product will be a combination of replacement Rotovap parts, off the shelf parts, and machined parts. I hope that the individuals who have access to a lathe will sell the machined parts to others in the community to allow them to complete the project.

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I own a machine shop, let me know what you need. Willing to make parts if someone wants to build a couple and exchange one for machined parts.


id be down, but i will need to save up a bit of money, and i want to wait until the thread makes a sound design.

You might be better off, cheaper and possibly better take off rate building a vacuum pot still with agitation


Should probably specify where you’re at and what you can do, I also have a machine shop, east of Denver and would help out other Future members if they need for reasonable rates, current capacities -
Lathe - manual 17x40 (Howa/Okuma)
CNC knee mill - 12x52" table, 3 HP (Lagun)
Surface grinder - 6x18 W/magnetic chuck (K.O. Lee)
Saws - Bandsaw up to 14", cold saw up to 8"
Mig & Tig welders


I think we need to improve the condensing area and get a huge bore between the boiling flask and condensing coils

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Current capacity
All CNC equipment
3 lathes ranging in chucking capacity from .0625" to 3’ OD x 8’ long
Vertical mills with travels from 12x48 to 42 x 66 Z travels up to 36"
Horizontal boring bar with two built in rotary tables in 48x96 table, 48" Y travel
Saw up to 12" OD

Manual equipment to include lathes, mills, saws, welders, grinders, etc.


I’m with @square_root_pharms:
Still or FFE.
building a rotovap doesn’t make sense.
unless you build it in stainless.

glass has lousy thermal transfer properties.


I think a rotovap is more versatile, and will give allot more surface area. if thermal transfer is your concern, then a stainless evaporation flask could be made to fit the sealing flange.

it would also allow for much more precision

rotovap is a fraction of the surface area one can achieve with shell/tube.

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this is not true, due to the rotation, the surface area is unbeatable unless you have a single sheet that the solvent evaporates off of.

they are very useful tools, just not one I’d put in the “hey, why don’t we build one” category.

I don’t however understand how a rotovap with a single theoretical plate, is ever going to be more precise than a good still.

Could you perhaps define that?

it was more of a hypothetical, i’m just saying that a rotovap is constantly re exposing the solvent to the gentle heating. Personally, id like one for myself, and id like to create a design for anyone to follow. this hasn’t been done for any general community, and id like it to be here!


don’t let me talk you out of it :wink:

see-through is nice.
stainless is more efficient.

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I think you would achieve the same heating surface area as you would in a fixed boiler with an agitation mixer.

I think the reclaim rate and efficiency is also greater on say a double jacketed boiler with a shell in tube exchanger. There is a guy here that recently built a keg pot still with a shell & tube exchanger I would have to find the thread

falling film also has no stupid rotary seals


id recomend you do some research on rotovaps, and understand their purpose, otherwise everyone would be using stills.

this thread is to foster ideas about rotatory evaporator designs, not stills, if you’d like to create an agitated still, go right ahead. i am looking for something a bit more delicate.

the ultimate purpose for a rotovap


so community dev of the

would go to good use eventually :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: