Working Principles

It is important to understand and consider the following basic working principles that are required to correctly operate a Schlenk line, and to safely manipulate air- and moisture-sensitive compounds under an inert atmosphere. These include:

  • Performing vacuum/inert gas cycles to remove air and moisture from oven-dried glassware.
  • Working with a slight positive pressure of inert gas.
  • Using dynamic vacuum to remove volatiles.
  • The use of flexible hosing to enable the versatile positioning of flasks.
  • Using greased ground glass joints or Teflon taps when applying vacuum.
  • Using rubber septa when manipulating liquids under an inert atmosphere.

Beyond these working principles, it is also crucial to “know your own Schlenk line” to ensure that it is operating both smoothly and safely. This may include: (i) knowing the usual vacuum pressure; (ii) knowing what the vacuum pump sounds like; and (iii) knowing the typical inert gas flow rate and pressure. Being aware of these features will help to identify when there is a potential problem in the Schlenk line and how to properly address them (see Troubleshooting for more details).

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