List of Articles in the Category Lab Freezer

How Scientific Refrigeration Equipment Works

Video on How Scientific Refrigeration Works

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Many of our posts on scientific refrigeration equipment focus on selecting correct scientific refrigerator and scientific freezer units, and the importance of temperature control, monitoring and alarming systems that protect valuable vaccines, biological specimens and similar temperature-sensitive materials.

It might be a stretch to liken laboratory,  pharmacy and scientific refrigeration equipment purchases with automobile purchases where the savvy buyer is interested in “what’s under the hood?”  Nevertheless we post this post on what’s “under the cabinet” of your scientific refrigerator or freezer.  Our point is to point out how these units protect your investment in their contents.

Your take-away is a better understanding about how refrigeration works, which type of lab refrigerator or freezer to buy, how to maintain it, and where to set it up to get the best performance. 

Critical Procedures to Preserve Valuable Biological Samples

Preservation of biological samples such as tissues, plasma and forensic and pathology specimens relies on maintaining proper storage temperatures and on the type of sample and analysis to be done. Sample temperatures must be monitored and facilities supported by backup systems and tracking. As per the FDA, frozen samples should be kept at –28 to –18 °C and refrigerated samples between –2 and –8 °C; ambient samples should be protected from heat and moisture.  Tovatech’s Dr. Bob Sandor authored an article on this critical topic in American Laboratory’s March 2017 print issue that can be accessed on the LabCompare website.

Selecting Scientific Refrigeration Equipment

Selecting Scientific Refrigeration Equipment

Scientific refrigeration equipment includes refrigerators and freezers used to store vaccines, pharmaceuticals, biological samples and similar temperature-sensitive products and specimens for healthcare, R&D and related applications.  Scientific refrigerators and freezers have critical performance requirements generally unmet by residential and commercial refrigeration systems.  For this reason they are highly recommended to protect contents that lose potency or are otherwise compromised by what are called temperature excursions above or below recommended storage settings. Therefore, selecting scientific refrigeration equipment for your needs is key.

Correct storage temperatures are usually recommended by professional or government organizations.  The CDC, for example, recommends in its 2016 Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit that frozen vaccines be stored between -50⁰ and -15⁰C (-58⁰ and + 5⁰F); refrigerated vaccines should be stored at 2⁰ and 8⁰C (36⁰ and 46⁰ F).  Vaccine manufacturers indicate correct storage temperatures that should apply along what is called the “cold chain” extending from the … Read the rest

Ultra-Cold Freezer Saves Skull Fragments After Brain Surgery

Brain surgery is an intricate and precise procedure. When extreme swelling of the brain necessitates removal of portions of the skull to relieve pressure, it’s medically preferable to reattach those pieces rather than use prosthetic materials after the swelling subsides. Today, surgeons are able to preserve these fragments in an ultra-cold freezer.

Cerebral Herniation

ultra-low-norlake-NSSUF281WWW-0Dr. Matthew Kang, a neurologist at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, has conducted several procedures that involve the removal of skull fragments to relieve swelling on the brain. In an interview with a local newscast, Dr. Kang discussed the consequences of cerebral swelling. “So if you have uncontrolled swelling and you have the skull on, the brain only has one way to go which is through the bottom, and that’s called a herniation,” Dr. Kang said. A cerebral herniation can lead to increased pressure inside the brain cavity. If untreated, a herniation can be fatal.… Read the rest

How to Buy a Laboratory Refrigerator/Freezer on a Budget

In the current economic climate, with shrinking budgets and tight credit, many laboratories are under a great deal of strain, especially when it comes to purchasing new equipment. Some facilities attempt to maintain their outdated cold storage units, while others try to substitute cheaper household units for those specifically designed for laboratory purposes. In the long run, neither of these alternatives are acceptable. Laboratory administrators should understand that they can take several steps to toward purchasing a new laboratory refrigerator or freezer without depleting their limited budgets.

lab-fridge-fullUnderstand Your Needs
Although a subcompact car often costs less than a pickup truck, each vehicle is equipped to accomplish different tasks. Most people would not buy a subcompact car to do the tasks required of a pickup truck solely based on the price tag. Just as with vehicles, laboratory personnel should not purchase a refrigerator or freezer based solely on price. A … Read the rest

Hospital Freezers Enable Biobanking Efforts

For decades, hospitals and clinics have stored blood in refrigerators and freezers for later use. These blood supplies are stored with care as to their type (A, B, AB, O), Rh factor (positive or negative), composition (red blood cells, plasma, platelets) and other criteria. In today’s medical facilities, many scientists are taking a similar approach to their biological samples by cataloging the biological samples in their cold storage units with a higher degree of specificity. These efforts have started a movement known as “biobanking”.

What is Biobanking?
biobankingIn hospitals around the world, doctors and other professionals have attempted to gather, store and dispense biological samples for scientific inquiry and diagnostic improvements. The facilities can preserve samples of blood, tissue, urine, saliva, DNA and other biological materials in their freezers for long periods of time, but only lately have they made strides toward tracking and cataloging these precious materials. These efforts … Read the rest

Deep Freeze: Medical Freezer Stores Cancer-Eating Virus

In a story that sounds much like a paperback medical thriller, a scientists in Sweden has reportedly developed a virus that targets some of the most deadly and aggressive forms of cancer. Professor Magnus Essand of the Uppsala University Hospital has conducted laboratory tests on a virus known as adenovirus serotype 5, in which he has altered the virus’s genetic code and programmed it to attack cells that produce tumors in the neuroendocrine system. Dr Essand currently stores his virus samples in a small laboratory freezer outside his office, waiting for the chance to conduct full-scale clinical trials.

cancer-eating-virusNeuroendocrine tumors (or NETs) attack several organs in the body, including many of the endocrine glands responsible for the production of hormones. NETs can also be traced as cause of several types of cancer, such as those of the liver, breast, and thyroid gland. One of the most publicized and aggressive forms … Read the rest

Colorado Lab Uses Research Freezers to Store Arctic Ice

Lab Freezers for Arctic Ice StorageA research facility near Denver, Colorado, is studying ice cores from the polar regions to examine the effects of climate change. The National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) works in conjunction with the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study polar ice samples. The facility employs laboratory freezers that prevent the ice core samples from melting and preserve them for later examinations by maintaining a steady temperature of approximately -23°C (-10°F).

Why Study Ice Cores?
Just as tree rings or layers of sediment can relate the hallmarks of climates in ancient times, ice cores can also hold such vital climate data, but in much more fine detail. An ice core can hold a continuous, detailed climate record stretching back more than 100,000 years, including data such as temperature, snowfall, and chemical composition of the gases of the lower atmosphere. This aggregation of precise data in such … Read the rest

Medical Refrigerators Preserve Expensive, Life-Saving Pharmaceuticals

Many vital pharmaceuticals cannot be stored in the ordinary bathroom medicine cabinet. These important drugs must be stored in temperature-controlled conditions to preserve their potency and efficacy. Some medications, such as injectable vaccines and insulin for diabetics, consist of biological components and would risk spoilage if they are kept near room temperature. Others, such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients, must also be kept at cooler temperatures to prevent chemical breakdown.

Examples of Refrigerated Pharmaceuticals
Several different types of medication require that they be kept under refrigeration. The temp-controlapplications of these drugs can range from antibiotics to eye drops. Some of these pharmaceuticals include:

  • Benzamycin (topical antibiotic; treats acne)
  • Cipro (anti-bacterial; prevents and treats anthrax)
  • DDAVP (treats excess thirst and urination in diabetics)
  • Fortovase (HIV treatment)
  • Leukeran (leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment)
  • Miacalcin (osteoporosis treatment)
  • Norditropin (growth hormone deficiency treatment)
  • Regranex (skin ulcer treatment gel)
  • Vepesid (treatment for small cell
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Personnel Practices for Proper Vaccine Storage

One of the most vital tasks in any healthcare facility is the care of vaccines. These biological items are both crucial and fragile. Vaccines must be stored in an environment where the temperature is strictly regulated and the procedures in handling them are strongly enforced. Vaccines are also expensive to produce and transport, so hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices must follow stringent protocols to insure that these medications are effective when administered to patients.

Common Errors
In a report dated April 2011, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlinedvaccines-bottles eleven major errors that health care workers commit when they handle vaccines. Some of the errors documented in the report include:

  • “Designating only one person, rather than at least two, to be responsible for storage and handling of vaccines.”
  • “Refrigerating vaccine in a manner that could jeopardize its quality.”
  • “Recording temperatures only once per day.”
  • “Documenting out-of-range temperatures
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