Tiny Teardrops™ Aluminum Thermal Beads
A replacement thermal-conductive media for water baths and aluminum heat blocks.
Aluminum has excellent thermal conductivity properties and good corrosion resistance. With these properties, small aluminum beads have become a popular substitute for water in a laboratory bath. There are several advantages: Heated bead baths can be left on so they are always ready to use without monitoring and refilling. Similarly, cooling buckets can be left in a refrigerator or freezer until needed. Vials or tubes inserted into the beads are firmly supported and do not tip over or sink, the risk of contamination from the water is eliminated, the beads are easy to decontaminate and sterilize, and the energy efficiency of heating baths are improved by a factor of 2 or 3. While spherical-, raisin- or cylindrical-shaped aluminum "beads" available from other suppliers provide the above improvements, BioSpec's Tiny Teardrops™ aluminum beads go a step further. Their shape permits higher packing densities and 10X greater surface-to-surface contact for improved heat conduction.
NOTE: Thermal beads are not always a perfect alternative to water. Pros and cons are discussed in an objective "advertorial" on thermal beads sponsored by ThermoFisher Scientific [BioTechniques, Vol 63, Issue 5, p.238-239 (Nov 2017)]. See also "Converting from Water to Aluminum Beads in Lab Baths or Ice Buckets" by Mike May [Lab Manager, Vol.11, No.3, p.63 (2016)]. In short, unlike the uniform properties of a stirred water bath and despite the excellent thermal conductivity of aluminum beads, a stable, depth-dependent temperature gradient will be established in a bath filled with metallic beads. There will be a discrepancy between the bath's gauge temperature and the temperature of the inserted tube. Always keep an accurate thermometer in the aluminum bead bath and locate it in the same position as the sample vessel.
- Tiny Teardrops™ Aluminum Beads have a shape similiar to teardrops or raindrops. One end is spherical and the other end comes to a point. The widest part is about 2 mm in diameter. Because of this non-sperical shape they pack tightly around tubes, microtubes, beakers, flasks and bottles, thus providing superior thermal transfer than spherical shaped aluminum beads.
- Packaged by volume (1 liter) rather than by weight.
- Aluminum beads can be cleaned, dried and sterilized with drug-store 70% isopropanol.
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