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While many of the eco-friendly practices deployed at laboratories come with high cost, reducing the energy consumption of ULT freezers can help both the environment and save cost.
FREMONT, CA: It is no secret that scientific research laboratories worldwide aren’t exactly the most eco-friendly institutions. High energy utilization, single-use products, and chemical consumption are among the several ways a laboratory can hamper the environment. However, the world can proactively address improper laboratory practices to lessen their adverse effect on the environment. Ultra-low temperature freezers are significant culprits for energy consumption in research laboratories, given their need of 16–25 kWh per day per freezer, on average. If managed improperly, these freezers could meter up an energy bill and an even larger carbon footprint. Read on to know more.
Raising the set temperature from -80oC to -70oC will not affect sample integrity but will lower the freezer's energy consumption by 1-2 kWh per day. It will also increase the life-span of the freezer by reducing the stress on the compressor going onward. ULT freezers in small spaces function the compressors harder to manage the set temperature. Moreover, this can increase the room temperature by 10-15oC and put extra pressure on the lab’s HVAC system. So try not to set up freezers in small rooms or hallways.
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ULT freezers generate plenty of heat. If that heat has nowhere to go, it will cycle back into the freezer motor. This will cause the motor to work harder, utilizing more energy in the process. So it is a mandate to ensure that all freezers have at least eight inches of surrounding space. There is an adjustable exhaust system set up behind all freezers. The generated hot air is expelled outdoor during summers and circulated throughout the lab to help heating during winters. So installing a two-way ventilation system can help to a great extend.
Dust and grime gather over the air filter and motor coils over time, making the freezer motor work harder than needed. Regular cleaning of these components can mitigate freezer energy consumption up to 25 percent. While it is vital to check this every few months, the cleaning generally is only needed once per year. Along with this, temperature monitoring ensures sample integrity and provides actionable data regarding the freezer’s energy usage and efficiency.