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Cell Disruption

Exceptional Performance of Microfluidizers® vs. Other Cell Lysis Techniques

Microfluidizer® processors provide many demonstrable advantages over all other cell disruptor methods and equipment — for both lab and production volumes.

Advantages in the Lab

Lab scale Microfluidizers® process cells rapidly (up to several hundred ml/min) from small sample volumes (as small as 14 ml to several liters). Our machines utilize advanced technology to rupture even the most challenging cells, and enable multiple research groups to use the processor for diverse applications.

Advantages During Production

The ability to scale up from lab to production volumes is a highly valuable tool for cell homogenization researchers — and an area where our processors shine. Unlike Microfluidizers®, high-pressure homogenizers involve changes in the way the cells are ruptured to accommodate the higher flow rates, which results in inconsistency when scaling up. When you use a Microfluidizer®, scaleup performance is guaranteed.

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Microfluidizer® Benefits for Cell Disruption

Our processors are great for the homogenization of cells because they are tough on cells and gentle on proteins. Microfluidizers® are ideally suited for effectively rupturing cells with different shear requirements — including E. coli, mammalian, plant, insect, fungi, algae and yeast cell disruption — while ensuring high protein recovery. These capabilities allow researchers to use the lowest pressure possible to reach target rupture rates while avoiding protein denaturation.

Highest Protein Integrity Recovery

Precisely controlled shear rates enable Microfluidizer® customers to use the minimum pressure required to rupture the target level of cells while keeping proteins intact. Compared with other cell disruption techniques, the Microfluidizer® yields several times the amount of recoverable, usable protein. 

Efficient Cooling

Cooling is extremely important in cell disruption because cell contents are typically temperature sensitive. Immediately after processing, use of Microfluidizer® cooling devices with ice water minimizes the amount of time the sample experiences elevated temperatures, and the lower temperatures combined with shorter processing times result in reduced denaturing and increased yields.

Ease of Use

Microfluidizers® were designed with convenient homogenization of cells and productivity in mind — that’s why they’re simple to operate and easy to clean. Multiple users in a lab are comfortable with our technology, which requires no specialized skills or knowledge. Customers appreciate how little maintenance is required, especially when compared to high-pressure homogenizers that have valves that need to be disassembled and cleaned manually.

Simple Downstream Processes

When compared with a high-pressure homogenizer, the Microfluidizer® breaks the cells gently yet efficiently, resulting in large cell wall fragments. The large fragments are easier to separate from the cell contents, so filtration times are shorter and the need for centrifugation is reduced.

Processes at a Constant, Controlled Shear Rate

Continuous processing at constant pressure ensures that all cells receive the same amount of energy input. With sonication, cells closer to the probe receive exponentially more energy than cells farther from the probe; batch-processing methods provide little control of energy uniformity to each cell. 

No Contamination

Microfluidizer® machines offer media-free, low-wear processing that eliminates adulteration of your sample.

Guaranteed Scalability

Unlike other technologies used to rupture cells, Microfluidics guarantees scaleup from lab and pilot volumes to full-scale production. 


Microfluidizers® are capable of handling a wide range of cells by optimizing pressure and cooling.

Small Sample Volumes

Our LV-1 Low Volume Lab Machine is capable of cell homogenization in samples as small as 1 ml.

Cell Disruption Methods

Advantages of Microfluidizers® Compared to Other Cell Lysis Techniques

High Pressure Homogenizers: After a Microfluidizer®, a high-pressure homogenizer for cell disruption is the next best alternative. Prices are typically comparable, although cooling, cleaning, valve wear and scalability can be issues. The Microfluidizer® provides superior quality and usability of ruptured cell suspensions for increased yield.

French Press: When using a French Press for cell disruption, a manually controlled valve releases the pressurized fluid from a pressure cell, resulting in cell rupture. This method of cell disruption is not scalable or repeatable. A French Press is difficult and time-consuming to clean, and the unit must be cleaned after every sample. Most manufacturers of French Presses have discontinued production, although some outdated units are still in use.

Ultrasonication: This method of cell disruption or cell lysis uses cavitational forces. Often used for very small sample volumes, the cell suspension is sonicated with an ultrasonic probe. Disadvantages of this technique include local high temperatures, resulting in low yields; scalability challenges; and noise. Advantages of this cell disruption technology are low equipment prices and the ability to process small scale volumes.

Freeze-thawing: Subjecting cell suspensions to variable temperatures results in rupture of cell walls. This cell lysis technique is not a very reproducible method, results will vary, and the technique is only suitable for very small samples.

Chemical Cell Lysis: This approach to cell disruption involves adding chemicals that soften and rupture the cell walls. Chemicals can be costly and thus scalability is limited. These chemicals contaminate the preparation which is often undesirable.

Mortar and Pestle: Manually grinding a cell suspension is a laborious process that can take several minutes, making it not scalable and not very repeatable, suitable for small lab samples only.

Media Milling: Contamination by media and temperature control are difficult, but otherwise media milling can be an effective method for disrupting many cell types.


Representative applications include yeast, fungi, E. coli, penicillium, mold, meningococcal cells, algae, bacteria, mammalian tissue and insect cells.

Proven Processing Results

E. Coli Cell Rupture


Yeast Lysis (S. Pombe)

Tips for Using a Microfluidizer for Cell Lysis

Do not over mix the pre-mix

Traditional vortex mixers can entrap air in the cell suspension, which will choke the machine. Gentle agitation is all that is required to keep the cells suspended. Ensure the cooling bath is filled with ice-water during the process and refreshed as needed.

Match the processing pressure to the type of cell

Bacterial cells vary markedly in their toughness. Gram negative cells like E. coli are the most commonly used and can be broken fairly easily. Gram positive cells are much tougher and should be treated like yeast or algae. See our application note for more details on setting the correct processing pressure for cell lysis.

Do not over-process

Too many passes will result in a higher degree of cell rupture, but can also cause protein activities to deteriorate due to too much energy input/heat generation. Over processing may also make downstream filtration and pipetting more difficult.

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