Labconco News periodic e-news featuring helpful tips, application information and new product announcementsen-usFri, 28 Apr 2017 20:28:02 20AprCDT-6:00Fri, 28 Apr 2017 20:28:02 20AprCDT-6:00 RSS () (Web Master)<![CDATA[4 Reasons NOT to use open flames in Biosafety Cabinets]]> Damage to HEPA filter due to open flameA Class II Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) uses HEPA filtered, laminar airflow to provide operator, environmental and sample protection. For the purpose of sterility, HEPA filters are typically rated at 99.99+% efficiency for particles 0.3 micron in size.

Typical microbiological procedures often utilize Bunsen burners or other open flames to sterilize and/or reduce cross contamination; however, the use of such open flames inside of a BSC is not recommended for several reasons:

  1. The Class II BSC maintains sample protection through delivery of downward laminar airflow (volumes of air traveling in a single direction at a constant speed, without turbulence) over the work area of the cabinet. Hot air rises, so any open flame causes air to rise against the laminar downflow, creating turbulence and foiling the BSC’s ability to protect the samples in the work area.
  2. If an open flame gets too hot, it also has the capacity for melting the bonding agent that holds the HEPA filter media to its frame. This destroys the HEPA filter’s effectiveness, leading to loss of containment in the positively pressured plenum.
  3. If the flame goes out and the gas supply valve remains open, flammable gas would be introduced to the cabinet unabated. In an A2 Biosafety Cabinet, where 70% of the air within the BSC is recirculated (see video below), concentrations of the flammable gas could reach explosive potential and pose a serious risk to not only the BSC, but to the user and the laboratory it occupies.

  4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute of Health (NIH) have also addressed this in the publication: Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, 5th ed., (BMBL 5th).

Several measures can be taken to reduce the chance for cross-contamination of materials when working in a BSC. Opened tubes or bottles should not be held in a vertical position. Investigators working with Petri dishes and tissue culture plates should hold the lid above the open sterile surface to minimize direct impaction of downward air. Bottle or tube caps should not be placed on the toweling. Items should be recapped or covered as soon as possible.

Open flames are not required in the near microbe-free environment of a biological safety cabinet. On an open bench, flaming the neck of a culture vessel will create an upward air current that prevents microorganisms from falling into the tube or flask. An open flame in a BSC, however, creates turbulence that disrupts the pattern of HEPA-filtered air being supplied to the work surface. When deemed absolutely necessary, touch-plate micro burners equipped with a pilot light to provide a flame on demand may be used. Internal cabinet air disturbance and heat buildup will be minimized. The burner must be turned off when work is completed. Small electric “furnaces” are available for decontaminating bacteriological loops and needles and are preferable to an open flame inside the BSC. Disposable or recyclable sterile loops should be used whenever possible.

As indicated above by the CDC, if a flame is deemed absolutely necessary, there are types of equipment widely available that are safer alternatives to the Bunsen burner. Some of these employ low profile, pedal attenuated flames; others detect motion.

If you still have questions about using flames in your process, please feel free to contact me.

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 06:14:00 6MarCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[How to freeze dry faster]]> How to freeze dry with Labconco freeze dry equipmentMost commonly known as freeze drying, lyophilization is a dehydration process used to preserve a perishable or biological material. Freeze drying drastically reduces the surrounding pressure around a frozen sample, allowing the frozen and bound water in the sample to sublimate directly from the solid phase to the gas phase. The water vapor is collected on a condenser that is ideally 15°C to 20°C colder than the freezing point of a sample.

The lyophilization process is slow and can take days depending upon the samples and the freeze drying conditions. These simple steps can be taken to reduce the required time to freeze dry samples.

Choose a freeze dryer that allows heat to be added to the sample.

The driving force in the lyophilization process is energy in the form of heat. In order for a molecule to undergo a phase change (solid to gas), energy must be provided. The more energy transferred to the sample, the faster the process.

However the amount of energy that can be added is limited by the sample’s eutectic point, which is derived from the part of the sample mixture that has the lowest freezing point.

The most common accessories that provide heat to samples when freeze drying are heated product shelves. The product shelves of most Tray Dryers are microprocessor controlled, and the shelf temperatures are automatically changed according to a program that has been set and stored. Heated product shelves are commonly used with Clear Drying Chambers.

Many end users do not realize that when freeze drying with flasks and manifolds, heat still enters the samples. The heat source is essentially the room temperature that is usually around 20°C to 25°C. Increasing the amount of the sample that is in contact with the glass sides of the flask, will increase the heat transferred to the sample and will result in a faster lyophilization rate. Room temperature variances will certainly affect the required length of time to freeze dry.

The longest freeze dry runs will occur when the sample is placed on unheated product shelves within a chamber or placed inside the freeze dryer’s condenser. It is very difficult to transfer heat through an air gap and even more difficult when the air gap is under vacuum.

Know the eutectic point of your sample and monitor its sample temperature.

It is critical that a sample remains completely frozen during all stages of freeze drying. The eutectic temperature (triple point) is the temperature at which your sample only exists in the solid phase. If your frozen sample goes to a temperature higher than the eutectic temperature, it will begin to melt.

During the primary drying phase (first phase) of freezing drying heat can be added to your sample to sublimate the water out of the sample. A temperature probe placed in your sample provides feedback of the sample temperature. The more heat you apply the faster the process, however your sample must remain below its eutectic point during primary drying. Knowing the temperature your sample cannot go above enables the greatest amount of heat to be added to the sample without experiencing melt back.

If you do not know the eutectic temperature, it is best to add heat slowly and observe the sample as you gradually add more heat to each subsequent run until you determine the maximum amount of heat that can be added safely to the sample. If the eutectic temperature is unknown, developing the optimal method will require many trial and error runs until the critical temperature is determined.

It is difficult to control the heat that is transferred to the sample when lyophilizing in flasks on a manifold. The heat is essentially the room temperature. If a sample in a flask is melting back (getting too much heat) simply, insulate the flask with foam to slow the heat transfer down.

Putting a flask inside another larger flask with an air gap in between the two flasks is another way to provide insulation to limit the amount of heat that is transferred to the sample.

Perfect your pre-freeze step

How a sample is frozen will not only affect the quality of the final freeze dried sample, it will also affect the length of the lyophilization process.

Spreading the sample out to increase the surface area as well as forming a thin layer of ice will speed the sublimation process. Pre-freezing in a thin layer covering the flask is called shell freezing. Commercial shell freezers are available to freeze samples in flasks. By increasing the surface area, more sample is in contact with the flask resulting in better heat transfer to the sample.

As the lyophilization process proceeds, an ice front moves through the sample. This ice front generally moves from the top of the sample to the bottom. As the front moves through the sample, the sublimating water vapor must pass through the dry cake that is formed behind the ice front, as it is being evacuated from the sample to the condenser. The less cake the water vapor must pass through, the faster the molecules will sublimate, resulting in a faster run.

If a shell freezer is not available, it is recommended to slant freeze samples in flasks to increase surface area as much as possible.

The freezing rate of a sample affects the size of the ice crystals that form. Faster freezing rates can cause smaller ice crystals to form. Small crystals result in longer sublimation rates. The cakes produced from samples frozen with large ice crystals are more porous. Water molecules sublimate more easily through porous cakes. The goal of pre-freezing is to form large crystals with a slower freezing rate while making sure the sample does not separate in the longer pre-freeze process.

Set your vacuum level

Sublimation requires energy in the form of heat to be transferred to the sample. Molecules present around the sample help transfer the heat to the sample. If there are no molecules present around a sample, it is difficult to effectively transfer heat. The fastest evaporation rates occur at a vacuum level of .200 mbar.

At vacuum levels lower than .200 mbar, there are not enough molecules present in the system for good heat transfer. At vacuum levels above .200 mbar, there are too many molecules present and this will slow down the sublimation rate.

It is a misconception that the deeper the vacuum level, the faster the sublimation rate. Set the vacuum level in the freeze dry system at .200 mbar to maximize the sublimation rate. If the vacuum level is not set, a deeper vacuum is established and the lyophilization run will take longer.                             

Know when the lyophilization process is complete

After all of the free water molecules are sublimated in primary drying, secondary drying begins. In secondary drying, the water molecules bound to the sample molecules are sublimated. Heat is required to break the water bond to the sample molecules. Because the majority of the water in the sample has already been sublimated, the sample temperature can rise above the eutectic point without melting back.  

It is difficult to know by looking at a sample when the sublimation process is complete. Because ending a run too early can cause a sample to melt back or result in a collapsed cake, the tendency is to error on the side of caution and extend the lyophilization run further than necessary. If the end point can be detected, it can save many unnecessary hours.

While sublimation occurs, the sample undergoes evaporative cooling. Because of evaporative cooling, the sample temperature will be lower than the shelf temperature. With sample temperature probes and heated shelf temperature probes, end point can be detected when the sample temperature becomes equal to the shelf temperature. When these temperatures are equal, sublimation is no longer occurring.

New end point detection accessories are available on some models of freeze dryers to determine the end of the sublimation process for samples in flasks.

By better understanding the lyophilization process and employing these suggestions, hours or even days can be saved when freeze drying.

Tue, 15 Mar 2016 05:00:00 5MarCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[How to select lab vacuum pumps for high vapor-flow applications]]> When selecting a vacuum pump for lyophilization, evaporation or concentration applications, a vital consideration in pump performance is vapor tolerance. These applications tend to involve high vapor flows that make extra demands of the pumping capacity, so a pump that is designed to handle those vapors is important to your success. But what do we mean by “handle those vapors?”

First things first. The first criterion in selecting a pump is to make sure that you have one that produces vacuum in the most effective range for your application.

References and resources courtesy of Vacuubrand

Vacuum Range

Most evaporative applications in the lab are best served by diaphragm pumps. These can be made of chemical resistant materials and produce enough vacuum to evaporate nearly every lab solvent (except DMSO) at room temperature. With the addition of modest heat, even DMSO is manageable.

In contrast, lyophilization (freeze drying) requires vacuum that is deep enough to induce sublimation – movement of a solvent directly from the solid state (e.g., ice) to the vapor state. Effectively, since evaporative use of vacuum is directed at lowering the boiling point, for sublimation we are trying to achieve a boiling point that is below the freezing point (eutectic temperature). This takes much deeper vacuum than diaphragm pumps can reach. For these applications, rotary vane pumps are the most common choice.

Evaporative Applications

In the case of evaporative applications, it is very common for both heat and vacuum to be used to induce evaporation. As the warmed vapors pass through a length of vacuum tubing on the way to the pump, it is likely that they will cool enough that some condensation will occur in the lines. Where does that condensation go? Well, it moves to the pump. What happens when it gets there will determine the progress of your application.

vacuum pumps including diaphragm scroll and hybrid combination pump

Liquids are not compressible and can impose mechanical forces that can damage your vacuum pump. Further, liquids inside a pump can be evaporated on the expansion stroke and condensed on the compression stroke, consuming a portion of the pumping capacity with every cycle, and impairing performance. If the pump has catchpots (also known as inlet separators), the liquids can be collected before they ever get to the pumping mechanism. This protects the pump mechanism from the forces introduced by the incompressible liquid. Pumps used with high vapor-load applications are best equipped with inlet separators.

Related Article: “How to select the correct Cold Trap” by Jenny Sprung
During laboratory evaporation, the main function of the Cold Trap is to collect harmful vapors before they enter the vacuum pump

Along with the catchpots, it is important that the pump have an effective “gas ballast.” Vapors that reach the pump mechanism before condensing can be condensed in the pump on the compression stroke, causing similar problems as the already condensed liquids described above. Gas ballast, or a purge system, introduces air between pump stages to blow condensed vapors through the pump, mitigating mechanical wear and tear on the pump of internal condensation.

Recall, however, that the reason you are using a vacuum pump is that you want to remove the air. What happens when you introduce air to remove condensable vapors? Some vacuum is lost. Depending on the design of a vacuum pump, the vacuum loss may be as little as 3-4 Torr, or as much as 12 Torr, with a corresponding loss of pumping speed near the ultimate vacuum.

The difference may be enough to compromise your ability to reach the vapor pressure of the solvent you are evaporating, thereby dramatically slowing your process. Some manufacturers address this problem by providing an intermittent purge system. Intermittent purge introduces a periodic pulse of air instead of a continuous stream with the goal of achieving the desired vacuum conditions most of the time, interrupted by periodic pressure spikes from the purge air. When working with evaporative processes, make sure you ask your vacuum pump manufacturer if the pump has gas ballast, how it works (continuous or intermittent), and how much vacuum capacity is lost when the gas ballast is operating. If they can’t or won’t tell you, that should be a red flag.

In contrast to rotary evaporators, concentrators are less likely to get condensation in the vacuum tubing because the vacuum is mainly what induces the evaporation. (The speed of the rotor can elevate internal temperatures in the concentrator to 35˚C.) So the considerations are the same with respect to the need for gas ballast and its impact on the available vacuum, while the inlet separators are most useful to protect the pump from particulates and droplets of liquids.

Sublimation Applications

FreeeZone Freeze Dryer with vacuum pump and clear chamber

Lyophilization creates different considerations, however, as the temperatures are so low as to require much deeper vacuum – typically in the range of 10-3 Torr – to induce sublimation. In this range, oil-sealed rotary vane pumps are the most common technology. With oil-sealed rotary vane pumps, the pump oil can become contaminated or degraded by the condensation of vapors in the oil. If the vapors are corrosive, the oil, which should be protecting the pump, becomes corrosive as well and can shorten the life of the pump if not changed very regularly. The correct operating temperatures for the solvents in use, along with careful process control, will be big factors in protecting the vacuum pump from vapors.  

One solution to the vapor challenge in lyophilization applications is the hybrid pump (or combination vacuum pump). These pumps combine a rotary vane section – which creates the deep vacuum needed – and a diaphragm pump which keeps the oil in the rotary vane pump under vacuum. The effect is to minimize condensation of solvent vapors in the pump oil, as well as to continuously distill out the vapors that do condense there. Not only does this prolong the life of the pump oil – extending oil change intervals by a factor of ten – but also pulls corrosive vapors out of the oil and reduces internal pump corrosion by a factor of about 50 when an application involves acid vapors. It’s worth noting that contaminated pump oil will corrode a pump whether it’s running or not, so keeping the oil clean is important even you don’t use the pump very often.

Related Video: How to avoid the mess of vacuum pump oil changes
You can probably understand why I hate to change the oil in my lab’s vacuum pumps. After all, there’s a little bit of “neat freak” in all of us who choose a career in laboratories...

One last consideration with oil-sealed pumps: make sure you have an oil mist filter on the exhaust. As air or vapors move through the pump, aerosols of oil can be created that be discharged into the workspace. Even if the pump exhaust is properly routed to a fume hood or exhaust duct, it is much better practice to capture that oil mist in a mist filter than deal with the mess or hazard.

Because of the various challenges of working with oil-sealed pumps, many users have tried to employ oil-less technologies. As noted earlier, the physics of diaphragm pumps do not permit them to reach this depth of vacuum. Scroll pumps run dry, and thus eliminate oil changes, however it is important to check the compatibility of your solvents with a scroll pump to avoid expensive failures.

Other Lab Vacuum Applications

Notice that this article has not addressed final drying and molecular distillation applications, nor pumps that serve as roughing pumps for turbomolecular pumps used in instrumentation vacuum. These tend not to be high vapor-flow applications. Similarly, filtration and aspiration applications often see high airflow but not vapor flow, as the vacuum used for these purposes should not be deep enough to generate copious vapor. In all of these cases, the most important concern is a pump that provides vacuum appropriate to the need.

Checklist for High Vapor-Load Vacuum Applications

  • Appropriate vacuum level
  • Corrosion resistant pump
  • Inlet catchpots (or cold traps for oil pumps) to keep condensate out of the pump
  • Gas ballast that manages condensate while minimizing impact on pump capacity
  • Oil mist filter on the exhaust of oil-sealed pumps
  • Consider hybrid pumps for longest pump life and to minimize service
  • Carefully follow manufacturer’s guidelines for pump operation and service

Related Article: “How to freeze dry faster” by Kelly Williams
These simple steps can be taken to reduce the required time to freeze dry samples.

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 05:15:00 5AprCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Freeze drying using isopropyl alcohol]]> The use of IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol) in pharmaceutical applications is numerous. Some uses are for an inexpensive precursor for manufacturing other pharmaceuticals.

Other uses are for a disinfectant to destroy bacteria and fungi on equipment, a solvent to aid in chemical reactions, preservative to sustain a pharmaceutical, or, a coolant for samples with specific temperature requirements.¹ It can also be used as an extractant.

IPA is polar which makes it easy to extract other polar chemicals from plants or animals, as well as extracting liquids to create new pharmaceutical products. If a drug requires long term storage or shipment, lyophilization, or freeze drying, is used.

This process requires a temperature differential of 15-20 degrees to prevent collapse and melt back of the sample. The freezing point of 100% IPA is -89°C, which is too low to safely freeze dry with a standard lyophilizer. Diluting the IPA with water raises its eutectic point. Labconco's -105°C FreeZone® Freeze Dry System can lyophilize samples that are extracted in IPA for long term storage.

Freeze Dry Process

The process of freeze drying requires three steps:

  • Pre-freezing
  • Primary Drying
  • Secondary Drying

Having a sample completely pre-frozen is essential for a properly lyophilized sample. IPA, which has a low freezing point, may melt on the quick walk from the freezer to the freeze dryer. Using an insulated flask will prevent this melt back. Labconco offers two sizes of insulated flasks depending on the volume of sample.

With the freeze dryer ready, add the samples one at a time, waiting for the vacuum to recover after each sample. Once the samples are added and a full vacuum is achieved, primary drying may begin. The primary drying step removes 92-93% of the moisture, and is the longest step in the freeze dry process.

When the samples look dry, you can move it into secondary drying by adding heat to the samples, removing the remaining 7-8% moisture. You can add heat to a flask by wrapping it in aluminum foil or other insulator. The secondary drying step takes approximately half the time required for primary drying.

Once the samples are completely dry, they are ready to be stored or shipped for use.


¹Pharmaceutical Uses of Isopropyl Alcohol |

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:57:00 10AprCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Webinar: Advances in Laboratory Freeze Drying]]> Do inconsistent results plague your freeze drying process? Do you find some samples extremely challenging? Is your lyophilization cycle taking way too long?

Optimize your freeze drying process with expert help. This webinar covers freeze drying techniques, new accessories and advances in freeze dryer technology that will improve your sample quality and reduce your time requirements.  

Learn about these topics:

  • Lyophilization process—optimization and trouble shooting
  • Sample-specific accessories—for better results
  • Vacuum pumps—reduce maintenance and expensive mistakes
  • Advances in new freeze dryer tech—better results & shorter process

Your presenters are Kelly Williams, Labconco Freeze Drying Product Manager and Jenny Sprung, Labconco Sneior Application Specialist. We look forward to answering your questions in this presentation as well!

Advances in Laboratory Freeze Drying FREE Webinar - Thursday, May 4, 2017

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:55:00 13AprCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[The Right Biological Safety Cabinet for Your Job]]> Mike May's article, "The Right Biological Safety Cabinet for Your Job" in Lab Manager Magazine uses reference material and expert interviews to lead you to the right biological safety cabinet for your laboratory and your specific procedures. You'll know all the right questions and how to find their answers after reading this.

When selecting a new biological safety cabinet (BSC), many factors should be considered... The first question, says Brian Garrett, product manager at Labconco, is, "What kind of protection do you need: product, personnel, or both?" . . . .

May covers the BSC basics and then dives into the details, such as materials of construction, and airflow patterns and their purposes. 

Read the entire article, "The Right Biological Safety Cabinet for Your Job" by Mike May in Lab Manager Magazine. 


Mon, 17 Apr 2017 13:45:00 13AprCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[USP update: Enclosure selection guide for the compounding pharmacy]]> There’s been a lot of talk around compounding pharmacies lately with the release of USP <800>, a new chapter that provides guidelines for compounding of hazardous drugs. USP <800> is a broad chapter, providing guidance when handling both non-sterile and sterile hazardous drugs. A significant portion of the chapter, focusing on enclosure selection, can be complex to navigate. So how does one determine what type of enclosure they need in their compounding pharmacy?

It boils down to two questions.

  • Are you preparing non-sterile or sterile drugs?
  • Do the preparations contain NIOSH-listed hazardous drugs?

Non-sterile, non-hazardous compounding

For non-sterile, non-hazardous compounding, covered in USP <795>, a single HEPA filtered Class I Biosafety Cabinet is typically used to protect compounding personnel, and the compounding area, from a drug powder. Drug powders are trapped on the HEPA filter, and pure air exhausts back into the room.

Sterile, non-hazardous compounding

In sterile, non-hazardous compounding, covered in USP <797>, a clean bench is recommended. It protects and maintains the sterile environment around the compounded product and work area before exhausting back into the room and is more ergonomic than a Containment Aseptic Isolator (CAI).

Non-sterile, hazardous compounding

For non-sterile, hazardous compounding, covered in USP <800>, a specialized balance enclosure or Class I Biosafety Cabinet is required. This can either include a single HEPA filter that is ducted to the outside, or two redundant HEPA filters that exhaust back into the room. It provides user protection during hazardous drug manipulation such as preparation of hormone replacement therapy creams (HRT).

Sterile, hazardous compounding

Finally, in sterile, hazardous compounding, covered in USP <800>, an exhausted Class II Biosafety Cabinet (BSC) is typically preferred. Exhausted models of Class II Biosafety Cabinets come in different formats. A USP <800> Class II BSC for sterile compounding can either be a Type A2 cabinet with a canopy connection to duct outside, a Type C1 cabinet that is ducted to the outside, or the less favorable Type B cabinet that is ducted outside.

Type C1 cabinets provide superior protection for users and maintain a sterile environment in the direct compounding area. Exhausted Class II cabinets provide the best product and personnel protection when preparing sensitive sterile injectables such as antineoplastics/chemotherapies.

No matter what type of compounding you perform, Labconco has your pharmacy covered.

For detailed information on equipment needed to meet USP guidelines, download the PDF: Labconco Compounding Pharmacy Solutions.

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 07:15:00 7AprCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Infographic: lyophilization, concentration or evaporation]]> Which is best for my samples?

This infographic will help you select the right methods and equipment to best preserve your specific samples. Lyophilization, concentration and evaporation (including nitrogen blowdown) methods are all considered. 

In concentration and evaporation, liquid molecules become vapor molecules. In lyophilization, sublimation occurs when solid molecules become vapor molecules. By bypassing the liquid phase, many samples are better preserved.

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 07:45:00 7MarCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Video: Evaporator & Concentrator YouTube Playlist]]> When you want to help yourself to expert knowledge in the form of video, it's nice to know Labconco RapidVap® and CentriVap® concentrators have a home on YouTube. Find how-to information about installation and setup for all of Labconco's evaporator equipment on this playlist

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:47:00 13MarCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Zero Net Energy Labs: Sustainability for Laboratory Science]]> Laboratories are places of discovery and scientific progress, housing both the research that matters and the researchers and equipment responsible for it. All that science, though, takes energy, and many facilities—especially those with significant ventilation needs—utilize it in high volumes. To combat this issue, some are looking to zero net energy (ZNE) laboratories as the sustainable, environmentally friendly homes for the science of tomorrow.

What is a ZNE lab?

In brief, a ZNE lab is a building that produces as much energy as it consumes, achieving maximum efficiency and often embracing alternative forms of energy like photovoltaics. Since this energy balancing act is a product of careful architectural design, engineering and equipment planning ZNE labs are not yet common.

Uncommon for now, perhaps—but that doesn't mean laboratories around the globe are not taking zero energy initiatives on current buildings or planning them for future builds. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Research Support Facility in Golden, Colorado, for example, is the largest completed ZNE building in the world. At 360,000 total square feet, this LEED Platinum structure reduces energy consumption while generating renewable energy. (Read more about this U.S. Department of Energy lab on and in the NREL PDF.)

How does a ZNE lab work?

We've established that a ZNE lab produces as much energy as it consumes—that, as one can expect, is easier said than done. One way to control the energy expenditure of a lab is to focus on the fume hoods: although the percentages vary depending on the source, it's common knowledge to lab designers that fume hoods are the biggest offenders when it comes to energy consumption. Choosing a more efficient system and using it mindfully can drastically reduce a lab's energy footprint.

Various versions of high performance and ductless fume hoods play different roles in conserving laboratory energy. Though one energy efficient fume hood is not ideal for all applications, all laboratory personnel can learn the important distinctions between the various types of high performance fume hoods and their uses. The very most energy efficient hoods are ductless and filtered fume hoods, which can handle a much wider variety of applications now than was possible historically.

Other ways a lab can achieve ZNE can be a combination of the following, depending on the science being performed within its walls:

  • Photovoltaic (solar)
  • Energy recovery systems
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Energy wheels
  • Wind technology
  • Chilled beams
  • Natural gas use versus coal
  • Natural lighting
  • Efficient insulation
  • Thermal glazed windows
  • Solar filmed windows
  • Less tempering of air in certain climates

What can you do?

Many of the aforementioned initiatives are large-scale design and equipment based, as ventilation efficiency and overall construction play a significant role in the energy rating of a building or lab. It's important to note, though, that change needn't be on such a grand scale to be impactful. Smaller modifications—many based on the behavior of humans within the lab, not necessarily its brick and mortar construction or contents—can also help with sustainability.

Personnel-initiated environmental stewardship in the lab can include actions like these:

  • Shutting the sash on fume hoods (when appropriate) and using the blower at the lowest required speed for optimal safety
  • Turning off lights when not needed (or utilizing task lighting)
  • Replacing incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with more efficient LED alternatives
  • Using timers for equipment shut down
  • Unplugging lab equipment
  • Recycling metal, paper, cardboard and plastic (all uncontaminated from lab use)
  • Using water-efficient methods for glassware washing

The Takeaway

ZNE labs certainly get the gold star when it comes to energy initiatives (or Platinum, if we're talking about LEED). The equipment choices and design techniques that allow labs to attain this ZNE rating are well thought out and require an environmental commitment at every step. However, a key takeaway from this discussion is that conserving energy on any level in the lab is a worthwhile endeavor. If we are conscious of our actions both at home and in the lab, we can be part of the solution rather than contributors to the problem.

Related Articles


Alliance to Save Energy 
Clean Energy Action Project 

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 07:59:00 7MarCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[4 things you need to know about airflow monitors on chemical fume hoods]]> There is an entire world of airflow monitors for fume hoods that do different things and serve different purposes. Perhaps you thought your airflow monitor came with your fume hood, or perhaps you think you don’t even need one. This article will have you discussing airflow monitors like an expert.   

1. Airflow monitors are required.

I’ll let the standards do the talking…

Per NFPA 45:

"A measuring device for indicating that the hood airflow remains within safe design limits shall be provided on each chemical fume hood... The measuring device for hood airflow shall be a permanently installed device and shall provide continuous indication to the hood user of adequate airflow and alert inadequate hood airflow by a combination of an audible and visual alarm. Where an audible alarm could compromise the safety of the user or the research, alternative means of alarm shall be considered."  

Per 29 CFR 1910.1450, OSHA Laboratory Standard:

 “. . . . each hood shall have a continuous monitoring device to allow convenient confirmation of adequate hood performance before use. If this is not possible, work with substances of unknown toxicity should be avoided or other types of local ventilation devices should be provided… chemical hoods should be maintained, monitored, and routinely tested for proper performance.” 

Per Prudent Practices:

 “Make sure that a continuous performance monitoring device is present, and check it every time the chemical hood is used.”

Per SEFA-1:

 “All hoods shall have some type of monitor for indicating face velocity or exhaust flow verification.  The monitor can be a simple pressure gage connected to a Pitot tube in the exhaust duct, one of many electronic monitors, or a vaneometer.  Regardless of the monitor installed, it should provide clear indication to the hood user whether exhaust flow or face velocity is within design parameters.  A ribbon taped to the bottom of the sash is not acceptable.”

By now it should be clear that fume hoods need something to measure air flow.  So why don’t fume hoods come standard with an airflow monitor?

Well, that’s because…

2. There are many types of airflow monitors

If one came standard on each hood, there would be no choice of what type you would get. The two major categories are analog and digital airflow monitors. The analog shows a red, amber, or green light, depending on the hood’s current airflow measurement.

As you may have guessed, the digital is more sophisticated, not only giving a digital read-out of the face velocity, but also the red, amber, or green light. It furthermore provides relay contacts on the back in case you want to wire it to send a signal to the building management system if the hood goes into alarm. 

Before you can choose the right one, you need to know…

3. Your mechanical system type matters to the airflow monitor.

Digital Airflow Monitor

Is your hood on a constant volume (CAV) or variable air volume (VAV) system? If the hood is being installed on a constant volume system then you can use either a digital or analog airflow monitor provided by the hood manufacturer. If the fume hood is being installed on a VAV system, the airflow monitor will need to come from the VAV supplier so that it can be properly calibrated to the specific VAV system. 

A constant volume airflow monitor from a hood manufacturer will not work on a VAV system because when you lower the sash while a constant volume of air is being exhausted from the hood, the face velocity will increase – even if the hood’s design includes air bypass areas.

The airflow monitor is calibrated for two specific points: with the sash fully open (lowest velocity point) and with the sash fully closed (highest velocity point). On a VAV system, the face velocity does not change nearly as much since the volume of the air decreases when the sash is lowered, so there isn’t a distinct low and high point. Therefore, the monitor cannot be calibrated correctly unless it complies with the VAV system.

Which leads me to my final point…

4. Airflow monitors cannot be calibrated at the factory, period.

Analog Airflow MonitorUnfortunately, a factory calibrated airflow monitor cannot be accurate for real-life conditions. Your laboratory conditions, including what exhaust blower the fume hood is connected to, cross drafts from supply air registers, fume hood placement, and duct run design all impact the airflow going through your fume hood. So your hood manufacturer can hook a hood up to an exhaust at its facility and calibrate it to those conditions; however, once it’s removed from that facility and shipped to you, all of that calibration goes right out the window.

Your airflow monitor must be calibrated where it will be used.

So now that you know what the experts know, you know that every fume hood needs an airflow monitor. To know whether to get your airflow monitor from the fume hood manufacturer or your air handling installers, you need to find out what type of mechanical system the hood will be installed on. Then you will be able to schedule the calibration, knowing this is a step that must be done in the field.

If you have further questions, please contact our experts at Labconco.

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:34:00 8MarCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Infographic: Selecting USP 800 Equipment]]> USP <800> requires a negative pressure Containment Primary Engineering Control (C-PEC) such as a Class I BSC for non-sterile compounding. The C-PEC must also be placed into an exhausted, negative pressure room. Follow these four quick steps to take the guesswork out of selecting the right C-PEC for your USP <800> compliant pharmacy.

This infographic will help you understand how to select the right solution for USP <800> in your pharmacy. 




Tue, 07 Mar 2017 08:55:00 8MarCST-6:00
<![CDATA[Top 5 mistakes made in the lyophilization process]]> It’s been said that freeze drying is an art, not a science, but there are ways to help improve your artistic capabilities. 

Some of the top mistakes of the freeze dry process are…

1)     Not knowing your sample’s melting point

Without knowing what temperature your sample melts at, you can’t choose the correct lyophilizer for your needs, and your samples may melt during the process. A freeze dryer requires a temperature differential between the sample’s eutectic temperature and the freeze dryer collector. The collector must be 20 degrees colder than the eutectic temperature to allow for proper sublimation during lyophilization.

Example: Ethanol has a freezing point of -114C. If used in a freeze dryer, the collector temperature would need to be -134˚C. Unless you’re using a liquid nitrogen freeze dryer, freeze drying a sample in pure ethanol would be impossible. In fact, just freezing pure ethanol is difficult. If you dilute ethanol with water, you can raise the sample’s eutectic temperature to a point that it could be freeze dried using a -105C freeze dryer.

2)     Thinking colder is better when freeze drying on a shelf-type freeze dryer

I had a customer who thought the freeze dryer wasn’t working because on the port-type freeze dryer the samples took 2 days to freeze dry, but in the tray dryer, they were taking a week.  When I asked what the shelves were set at, I was told -40˚C.  Without an appropriate temperature, freeze drying is going to take a long time. The ports freeze dried more quickly because of ambient heat from the room.

During  primary drying, you want to set the shelf temperature to just below the sample’s eutectic temperature. With a water sample, this would mean the shelves would be set at about -5˚C since water freezes at 0˚C. Allow just enough heat to the shelves to encourage the molecules of the sample to move, yet prevent melting.

3)     Using the wrong equipment for your samples

Many freeze dryers are used in a group setting, so before purchasing one, make sure each person using it knows the following:

  • how much moisture needs to be lyophilized
  • what the sample is (and the eutectic temperature)
  • how to properly use the freeze dryer

If you need to process 10 liters of sample, a 1 liter freeze dryer is not the best option; an 18 liter would be recommended. Make sure you get the right temperature collector to prevent samples melting and contamination of your vacuum pump oil.

Finally, if the unit is not used correctly, it could ruin everyone’s samples. The Guide to Freeze Drying can help.

4)     Not maintaining the vacuum pump

Although it seems like a small piece of the freeze dry puzzle, the pump needs to be in optimal working order for freeze drying to work. There are a few things to remember about the vacuum pump; Running the pump with the gas ballast open 30 minutes before and after the freeze dry process will elongate the life of the pump. Opening the gas ballast purges contaminants out of the pump to prevent damage to internal components.

Check the pump oil often for discoloration and particles, and change the oil as needed. Doing regular oil changes keeps the pump pulling at optimum vacuum during the freeze dry process.

5)     Having the wrong freeze drying accessories for your process

Do you need to stopper samples under vacuum?  If so, a stoppering chamber is required. Are you freeze drying in flasks? Then a drying chamber with ports is needed. If you are doing solvents or acids, a hybrid vacuum pump is recommended.

By avoiding the above mistakes, you can give your freeze dryer and pump a long life, and you‘ll have a masterpiece sample when your freeze drying is done.

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 05:35:00 5FebCST-6:00
<![CDATA[Meet Labconco's International Team]]> Our international team is an exceptionally eclectic and dedicated group, and we’re proud to have them in our Labconco family. Led by International Sales Manager Nathan Ladd (second from bottom left) and International Operations Manager Aide McLaughlin (top right), team members work with our international network of distributors throughout 138 countries to provide the documentation and support necessary to ensure orders are shipped promptly and correctly.

“Some territories are more complex than others in terms of export requirements,” Aide says. “We also handle letters of credit, which are forms of payment, and produce a number of other types of documentation based on shipping locations. We hear all the time that our forwarders appreciate our consistent, clear and well-presented documentation.”

Collectively, the team is proficient in Italian, Russian, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese. They work together seamlessly, dividing their time between our home office in Kansas City and their respective locations around the globe. Each member plays an integral role, bringing unique skills and significant professional experience to the group. Each regional sales manager, for example, has been working in laboratory equipment sales for at least 10 years.

While they work together as a cohesive unit, individual personalities shine through all the same. Kevin Conley, Senior International Support Specialist (second from bottom right), for example, collects currency from various countries and displays them on his cubicle wall (see photo). Alex Reymar, International Support Specialist (second from top right), travels for pleasure as often as his schedule allows and has visited 49 states and 31 countries—so far.

When the regional sales managers visit our office for training sessions or meetings, the international team enjoys going out to lunch as a group. In fact, food brings the department—and others—together often, Nathan says.

“One of the highlights for those who do regional travel is getting to try local specialties or unique dishes native to a location. It is always amazing how food can be such a unifier and a great conversation starter with distributors, end users and colleagues,” he says.

While the cuisine of choice may vary, the topic of conversation at these luncheons generally features two central themes. “It’s an opportunity to catch up on what’s happening in our lives and also discuss projects,” Aide says. “We are always focusing on what we can do better next time.” 

Contact Labconco's International Team

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 06:45:00 6FebCST-6:00
<![CDATA[Crisis averted: Lab equipment on demand]]> Even in the calculating world of science and manufacturing, problems can come at you fast. But when one unexpected problem arose, Customer Service Representative Becky Alexander put her experience to work to come to the rescue.

One of our Distributor Representatives was having a major issue with a mistake encountered by a lab manager who was in a hurry to get a new process up and running in her lab. The buyer had spent a lot of time focusing on finding the right fume hood for her specific application; however, she had been so focused on finding the right hood that she neglected entirely to buy a base cabinet for it, putting her in a real bind to get the fume hood installed in time.

In a panic, the lab manager and her distributor came to Becky looking for a speedy solution. The lab manager made the urgency of the situation absolutely clear. From the production facility, the lead-time for a new base cabinet was around four weeks. Based on her urgency, a standard order just would not do. After talking the problem through with the representative to fully understand the situation, Becky turned to Labconco XPress Shipping for the solution. She knew, based on the fume hood specifications, that XPress Shipping had the base cabinet they needed in stock.

The XPress Shipping program stores an inventory of readymade equipment, ranging from glove boxes to fume hoods to base cabinets, that can be shipped quickly when someone needs an item that doesn’t require custom design. Through this program, after we receive a receipt of order and upon request, products are shipped in 48 hours or less. This means that the lab manager would get the base cabinet for her fume hood much more quickly than she feared.

Even when the shipping order had been placed, Becky wanted to make sure not to let the order fall through the cracks. Throughout the shipping process, she also gave the lab manager’s distributor updates on when the package shipped, its location periodically through the shipment, and finally gave a solid delivery date while helping the distributor smooth out any concerns that the laboratory manager had.

Great work, Becky! With quick thinking, personal interest in the success of our clients and XPress Shipping, Becky was happy to make someone’s day. 

*Shipping in 48 hours or less is subject to availability.

XPress Shipping logo

XPress Shipping

Labconco XPress speeds delivery of selected equipment to you. View a list of products that qualify.

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 06:00:00 6FebCST-6:00
<![CDATA[4 things to consider before choosing a ductless fume hood]]> Ductless fume hoods such as Paramount Ductless Enclosures are filtered fume hoods that can be portable between labs.Ductless fume hoods, sometimes called carbon-filtered enclosures or filtered fume hoods, are self-contained, filtered laboratory enclosures that remove hazardous fumes, vapors and particles from the laboratory. Unlike traditional fume hoods, installation costs are very low and no ductwork is required. Therefore, many people think selecting one is a slam-dunk when they first learn of them.

“It takes care of the chemical fumes, it’s cheaper, and it’s an easier installation. It only makes sense, right?”

Not. So. Fast.

There are some important things to consider before making the final decision to purchase a ductless fume hood. Take these four aspects into thorough consideration to be confident that a ductless fume hood is the right choice for your laboratory and your applications:

1. Is your general application appropriate for a ductless fume hood?

Although there are different classes of ductless and filtered fume hoods, some hoods still limit applications that can be performed in them. Some ductless fume hoods should only be used light-duty or process-specific fume hoods. Other filtered fume hoods can be used for a wide range of chemicals, but keep in mind that larger chemical volumes will always shorten filter life. 

This means that:

  • A limited number of different chemicals should be used.
  • No extreme heating should be carried out in the hood, i.e. acid digestion applications.
  • Modest chemical volumes should be used, around 500 mls or less per chemical.
  • Moderate chemical exposure times should be maintained.

If your application does not meet these parameters, a standard ducted fume hood is likely the best option for maximum safety and economical feasibility. If you do not know what chemicals will be used in the future, or you have a very long list of chemicals, the application would best be performed in a ducted fume hood.

At this point you should discuss your application with a Fume Hood Specialist to confirm which kind of fume hood is primarily recommended.

2. Will the chemicals involved in your application be effectively filtered with the available carbon filters?

Protector Airo Filtered Fume Hood is a ductless fume hood that uses Neutrodine Filters.Typically, ductless hoods will be outfitted with chemical specific filters. Specific filter types increase chemical trapping capacity for different chemical families; however, some chemicals cannot be safely filtered or aren’t filtered effectively enough to allow ductless hoods to be a financially viable option. Filtered fume hoods can filter out acids, bases, and solvents with one filter type, however, there are still some chemicals (low molecular weight solvents) that will not be effectively filtered. 

To filter various chemical groups, Labconco offers seven different types of carbon filters for use in our ductless fume hoods:

  • HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter: a 99.99% efficient particulate filter for chemical powders and particulates
  • Organic Carbon Filter: Activated carbon to chemically adsorb organic vapors
  • Acid-Sulfur Carbon Filter: Impregnated carbon to neutralize Acids and Sulfur containing compounds
  • Ammonia-Amine Carbon Filter: Impregnated carbon to neutralize ammonia/amine compounds
  • Formaldehyde Carbon Filter: Impregnated carbon to neutralize formaldehyde
  • Mixed Bed Carbon Filter: 60 % Impregnated carbon to neutralize acids and sulfur containing compounds (20%), Ammonia and amine compounds (20%), formaldehyde containing compounds (20%) and 40% activated carbon for organics
  • Radioisotope Carbon Filter: Impregnated carbon to neutralize radioisotopes
  • Neutrodine® Carbon Filters: a comprehensive filter type for use in our Echo and Airo Filtered fume hoods.

If all of the chemicals involved in your application match one of these filter types, it is a good sign that your application will be suitable for use with a ductless fume hood; however, there are some chemical exceptions with each filter type. For instance, some organics (such as methanol) are very volatile, light weight, and are not effectively adsorbed on the organic filter.  Whereas some acids (like perchloric acid) present special hazards and should be used in a specialized fume hood.

The best way to determine if your chemicals are compatible with the filter types offered is to request a Chemical Assessment from our Chemical Specialists. They will review your application to help you determine if it is suitable, make appropriate equipment and filter recommendations, and provide you with any necessary precautions.

In some cases, you may be able to determine the correct filter type using our Chemical Guide for Ductless Hoods. Remember, though, the Guide is not an approved list of chemicals; you and your safety officer must ultimately determine which chemicals, quantities and filters ensure your personal safety.

3. How often will you have to replace your filters?

Although you will not have the added cost of ductwork installation and wiring associated with a standard fume hood, you will still want to consider how often you would need to replace your filters, and the maintenance costs associated with that, to calculate your estimated annual filter costs. Filter lifespans can last from a few months up to two years. You will want to find out how long the expected filter lifespan is for your application, then weigh that against the cost to install a standard fume hood. Also consider the energy cost of running a standard fume hood, which removes tempered air from the laboratory, taxing the HVAC system.

Filter life (and filter replacement times) depend on several factors:

  • What chemicals are being used?
  • What is the filter capacity for the chemicals being used?
  • What is the evaporation rate of each chemical?
  • What is the chemical volume that is being used?
  • What is the duration of usage per day for each chemical?
  • What is the temperature of each chemical?

Need to learn more about carbon filtration? Read these articles for further details:

4. How do the pros and cons of using a ductless fume hood balance out for you?

If you have determined that a ductless fume hood is most likely suitable for your application, the last thing to do is to determine how the advantages of a ductless fume hood stand up against its disadvantages, and how both align with your company's overall goals. The following table sums up the important pros and cons, however, the final decision is up to you and your safety officer, and should be made with sufficient consideration.

Pros and Cons of Ductless Fume Hoods

When considering whether to purchase a ductless fume hood, these four important considerations will help you to make the safest, most economically sound decision for your facility.

If you have any questions regarding this information or need additional information, feel free to contact a specialist. We would love to hear from you.

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 05:00:00 5FebCST-6:00
<![CDATA[Smart ways to get the most out of your Pipette Washer/Dryer]]> You've already made some brainy decisions if you're cleaning pipettes with an automated pipette washer/dryer because automating the process is allowing you to:

  • Make the whole cleaning cycle faster, so you can buy fewer reusable pipettes
  • Handle pipettes less, reducing the risk of breakage and injuries
  • Save on water bills
  • Put your time in the laboratory to better use

Here are a few ways to squeeze even more out of your pipette washer:

Take advantage of portability

Keeping your pipette washer on a laboratory cart, rather than a bench top, frees up counter space for work and other equipment, and more importantly, it adds mobility to your pipette washer. This way it can be pushed from station to station or even be shared between labs.

Your pipette washer can be stored out of the way on a portable table; it can be loaded at your work station to reduce glass handling even further, and then moved to its air and water supply when it is full and ready to run.

Add versatility with a spindle kit

ScrubAir can also be used to wash small test tubes and vials. Glassware that are 7mm inside diameter or larger can be accommodated by adding a spindle kit. Polystyrene spindles are easy to install and uninstall. A spindle kit comes with 24 each 5mm outside diameter polystyrene spindles with caps and a stainless steel rack that holds up to 20 test tubes.

Keep extra detergent on hand

You can ruin all of the efficiency you’ve invested in by running out of detergent. Make sure that there’s always more than one bottle on the shelf so that using the last drip from one bottle of detergent doesn’t mean you’ve run out completely. That could put your whole pipetting process on hold.

Keep your percolating and drying air clean

If you know your lab’s compressed air is notorious for gumming up the works, get a 5 micron air filter for your ScrubAir. Compressed air is used to both clean and dry your pipettes, so the filter will keep you from introducing contaminants through your laboratory’s air supply.

Friendly with serological pipettes too

Serological pipette costs quickly add up when you're constantly tossing them into the garbage. Swap in the Serological Pipette Insert to quickly disinfect and reuse pipettes of up to 50 ml.

Take a look at your own pipetting process and see if any of these tips are right for you. If you have questions, you can contact me directly.

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 04:30:00 4JanCST-6:00
<![CDATA[Infographic: How to Select a Fume Hood Blower]]> One of the first important steps in laboratory design and hood installation is to select the proper blower and ductwork.

It is important that your components are sized correctly depending on hood size, application, cubic feet per minute (CFM), and the distance that needs to be ducted. A fume removal system works well only if the blower, ductwork and accessories are properly sized. This infographic is designed to make choosing the correct blower and accessories a little easier.

Blower Selection

Select a blower that's designed and manufactured for superior performance and long life when subjected to chemical atmospheres. Blowers are available in sizes that can handle airflow as low as 250 CFM, to blowers that can handle airflow as high as 3500 CFM.

To obtain a greater level of detail, consult the Blowers Catalog for features product data, dimensional drawings and selection guides for all of our blowers. There are three common styles of blowers: Coated Steel, Fiberglass and PVC.

Coated Steel Blowers are recommended for low to moderately corrosive applications, Fiberglass Blowers are used for moderate to highly corrosive conditions, and PVC Blowers are used for perchloric acid and other extremely corrosive atmospheres. Forward curved impellers ensure quiet operation and optimum air delivery.

If you need additional assistance in the selection of blowers, ductwork and accessories, contact a fume hood expert

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 06:15:00 6JanCST-6:00
<![CDATA[2016 R&D 100 Finalist: Congratulations to our Purifier® Axiom® manufacturing team]]> In a small, quiet lab, in the back of the Kansas City headquarters of Labconco, a design team labored for two and half years to develop a unique biological safety cabinet (BSC) that is shaking up nearly half a century of lab design dogma. This BSC (the world’s first Class II, type C1) was selected as an R&D100 Awards Finalist. But that’s not the whole story.

When I started with Labconco almost a decade ago, my grandmother asked me, “What does Labconco do?” A tough question to succinctly address.

We support scientific research… We are experts at moving air… We design laboratory equipment. We innovate.

We bend steel.

We build laboratory equipment that serves people—to keep scientists safer—to enable scientific work that may otherwise be impossible—to enable science to make the world a better place for everyone.

The efforts of our purchasing, engineering, metal fabrication and assembly groups resolutely demonstrate Labconco’s support for those who depend on biological safety cabinets to make their work, life and the world safe.

Because that… is what we do.

Congratulations to our entire manufacturing and production teams for exemplary production of the 2016 R&D100 Awards Finalist: The Purifier Axiom. Thank you for your dedication and craftsmanship; without which, this ground-breaking new technology would not be possible.

In the photograph: Standing (left to right) are Eric Swope, Brian Garrett, Francis Sutton, Herb Watts, Harold Davis, Sean Meadors, Jim Hogan and David James. Seated (left to right) are Joshua Mustain, Colton Brockmeier, Daniel Hull (holding plaque) and Larry Streeter. Just some of the many people at Labconco whose work goes into the Axiom. 

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:45:00 5JanCST-6:00
<![CDATA[Real lab efficiency vs. pipe dreams]]> All too often doing the right thing is unrealistic. Cutting down on wasted energy, wasted time or wasted water would be great, but when it requires a brand new laboratory or a full redesign of your lab space, obtaining the resources to get it done can seem like a Herculean task. 

Refreshingly, this article by Jessica Burdg gives you several smaller, more feasible projects that you can undertake to make your lab less costly and more productive. Some of these suggestions can save hours of wasted time so you can get on to more profitable projects. Others can cut down on your lab's overhead by reducing energy consumption.

Did you realize that using the wrong kind of biosafety cabinet, for instance, can turn an otherwise innocuous procedure into a major drain on the lab's energy bill? Or that washing pipettes with certain popular types of equipment uses 50 times more water than necessary?

Today’s laboratories are hotbeds of innovation, harborers of cutting-edge research and homes of state-of-the-art scientific equipment. They also use a staggering amount of energy in the process, consuming up to five times more energy per square foot than office buildings. The water usage statistics show a similar trend, as labs in university settings in particular often boast some of the highest water consumption figures on campus. What is the root of this struggle?

With a host of strict ventilation requirements, constantly running equipment and no shortage of applications that require water, it’s easy to see why maximizing efficiency in labs has become a priority. Some sustainability-focused organizations, including the U.S. Green Building Council, are promoting change in how buildings like laboratories are constructed, offering incentivized green building certification programs such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED rankings include...

Read the entire article, "Three Ways to Make Your Lab More Efficient" by Jessica Burdg in Laboratory Equipment's Digital Outlook Magazine for more details.

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 06:45:00 6DecCST-6:00
<![CDATA[What is ASHRAE 110-2016?]]> Recently, changes were made to the ASHRAE 110 standard for the first time in twenty years. To best understand them, and why they matter, you must first understand what ASHRAE is.

ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, describes itself as “a global society dedicated to advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment.” This includes building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality and sustainability and covers everything from residential and personal vehicle HVAC systems to those in commercial airplanes and, of course, scientific laboratories. Its history dates back to 1894, making it trusted as one of the premier sources for standards, operating practices, research and more within the industry.

One of ASHRAE’s main purposes is to create and publish standards for testing and performance criteria regarding the design and maintenance of indoor environments. Their standards create defined minimum values for accepted performance of a variety of ventilation-related products.

ASHRAE 110 Procedure

ASHRAE Standard 110, or simply ASHRAE 110, explains a method for testing the performance of laboratory fume hoods. Essentially, it outlines a quantitative test procedure for determining the operating capabilities, such as containing and exhausting fumes, of a fume hood. The ASHRAE performance test does not, however, directly correlate to safety of the hood operator. This is due to the large number of variables in hood environment (e.g. cross drafts, hood location or temperature), hood use, and materials in the hood.

ASHRAE 110 has become the standard for testing fume hood containment since its inception in 1985. It is used not only by manufacturers during development and design, but also as an informal criteria for purchasing a fume hood for many labs, and as a method of performance evaluation and certification for fume hoods being installed. It can even be used as a diagnostic tool to identify problems in an existing fume hood/HVAC system installation.

There are three key areas of the standard: face velocity measurement, smoke visualization, and tracer gas containment.

The face velocity measurement requires multiple point readings to determine the average face velocity the fume hood can maintain. It also includes measurement of cross drafts around the hood and calibration of airflow monitors.

The smoke visualization test has procedures for both small volumes and large volumes of smoke to clearly see how the air moves and is contained within the hood. In addition to airflow patterns, the smoke test shows turbulence at the front of the hood caused by the room environment. It can also show how conaminants could escape from the hood, if it is leaking, and reach the operator at various sash heights.

The tracer gas containment testing determines exposure levels based on how many contaminated particles are able to escape the hood and reach the operator's breathing zone. This procedure involves three “static” tests, sash movement effect measurement test, and a perimeter scan. The latter two are optional.

The static placements are three set locations for the ejector, directly in the center of the work surface and 12” in from each side toward the center of the hood. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) gas is put into the hood through the ejector and then gas analyzers on a mannequin placed at the average height of an operator’s face, known as the “breathing zone,” measure the amount of SF6 in five minute intervals to determine the average escape amount. Three of these tests are done. Each one lasts five minutes and uses four liters per minute of SF6. ASHRAE suggests measuring concentration to 0.01 parts per million (ppm). Labconco uses analyzers that measure to 0.000 ppm for precise understanding of the hood’s containment capability.

The use of SF6 is important due to its uniqueness. Since it is not commonly found in labs, it’s not likely for the sensor to detect it from the environment. Furthermore, it is five times heavier than air so it’s very clearly the gas from the hood during the test. It also behaves consistently so the same test can be run multiple times to reliably get the same result. These unique attributes help to avoid false readings during the test.

ASHRAE 110 Tests

There are three test types, As Manufactured (AM), As Installed (AI) and As Used (AU). AM is done once the hood is built and is generally done in a testing lab where environmental factors are removed as much as possible. AI testing is done once the hood is installed in the lab but before anything is placed inside. This can reveal issues related to how the hood was installed, room operation/location, and other room environment factors. Finally, AU testing is done in the lab with materials (beakers, equipment, etc.) inside the hood. This test takes into account both the room environment and users, and can determine if there is an issue with how it is being operated by comparing the test results to the AI results.

ASHRAE’s goal is for health and safety officers, lab managers and lab technicians to understand the operation of the hood and the safety of it. ASHRAE will not, however, provide a recommendation for the test results. Each lab sets its own acceptable levels for the test results. In addition, some organizations, such as the Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association (SEFA) provide ratings for acceptable concentration levels of each test. For example, SEFA requires a hood to have an average containment loss of 0.05 ppm or less when tested at four liters per minute of tracer gas used in the AM test, and an average of 0.10 ppm or less for the AI and AU tests, in order to receive the SEFA designation of a low velocity/high performance fume hood.

ASHRAE 110-2016

An updated ASHRAE 110 was approved in April 2016, replacing the previous version from 1995. The latest version includes changes regarding the mannequin height and data collection. The test procedure itself was modified based on committee experience and to clarify statements from the 1995 edition, such as the breathing zone height.

Labconco’s very own Kevin Gilkison, Vice President of Sales Engineering, is one of the co-writers of the standard. He explained the major changes of this update.

The location of the breathing zone was lowered to 22” from the work surface. This was based on research suggesting that the average height of fume hood operators has decreased over the past decade. Gilkison shared this change is particularly important because it creates a more accurate test and therefore can lead to a safer work environment for the operator.

Another key component of the update is that it requires digital collection of data during testing procedures rather than manual data collection. This was previously recommended, but not required. According to Gilkison, this reduces the chance of human error in recording this data. The information-based sections were also significantly lengthened, including expansion of Appendix A and a new, non-mandatory Appendix B that provides guidance on investigating poor fume hood performance. 

For more information on ASHRAE 110 or how Labconco’s fume hoods perform on the test, contact us.

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 06:15:00 6NovCST-6:00
<![CDATA[Infographic: Fume Hood Operation DO's & DON'Ts]]> Keeping you safe in your laboratory is what we think about every day, so we developed this infographic along with Lab Manager Magazine to help you work safely in your laboratory's fume hoods. These 10 DO's and 10 DON'Ts will make your processes safer for you and others in your lab.

Click to view full infographic

Fume Hood Do's and Don'ts infographic teaser

Tue, 08 Nov 2016 07:15:00 7NovCST-6:00
<![CDATA[Labconco makes mammograms possible for women in need]]> Cart for the Cure

During our annual Cart for the Cure™ Promotion, our popular Portable Table, painted the official Breast Cancer Awareness Pink color, is sold for $100 off. With each Pink Cart sold, Labconco donates $50 to the Saint Luke’s Foundation.

For the past 5 years, Labconco has partnered with Saint Luke’s Foundation, located in northern Kansas City. We've made a monetary donation each year to Saint Luke’s Foundation/Center for Women’s Care, where they direct those funds to help provide free mammograms to women who cannot afford them. 

In 2014 Labconco was able to present a check to the Saint Luke’s Foundation for $2000.00 and again in 2015, we donated over that amount. That's enough to provide for 20 mammograms for women whom might not have otherwise received one.

We hope to help even more women to obtain the life saving screening this year.

Select a Cart for the Cure for your lab

Cart for the Cure $2000 Donation in 2014, Hogenkamp & Williamson Present

Shirley Hogenkamp (Labconco Marketing Manager) and I presented the check in person and had a wonderful visit with Senior Development Director Jan Kauk, Practice Manager Cinnamon Ramsey and others who work at the Center in 2014. Another article on this site detail our latest work with St. Luke's Foundation as well.

We were given a complete tour of the center and saw the Pink Cart, donated a few years ago, in use. They told us that their pink cart is much loved and often used.

Save $100 and Support Breast Cancer Awareness

Paint one of our Portable Tables pink, and it becomes the Cart for the Cure! October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Labconco wants to help in the fight.


  • From September 1 through November 30, purchase a Cart for the Cure at $100 off the list price. For each cart purchased, Labconco will donate $50 to the Saint Luke’s Foundation, an organization that helps provide mammograms to women who cannot afford them.
  • The Cart for the Cure has all the features of our popular Portable Table, including the sturdy construction, ample shelf space and lifetime guarantee. The 18 gauge welded tubular steel frame is painted the official Breast Cancer Awareness pink. Also included is a pink ribbon identification tag.
  • Price is not inclusive of international taxes or shipping costs to destination.

Select a Cart for the Cure for your lab

Take advantage of this dynamic duo: a discounted price and a donation to a worthy cause. Your purchase will bring you a stand-out cart that aims to help roll breast cancer out of town!

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 04:30:00 4NovCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Labconco's caring spirit makes it Christmas in October]]>

When 25 Labconco associates and family members converged on our adopted home just a few miles from Labconco corporate headquarters on Saturday, October 1, 2016, the sunny, warm weather, could not have been a more appropriate metaphor for the feeling of doing something good for our community. We came together to help Ron, a 74-year old veteran who was living alone when he broke his ankle and required prolonged hospital care. His home needed help he couldn’t physically accomplish nor financially afford.

Labconco people care. We volunteer and give back to our hometown because we know being good neighbors makes a difference in our community. Christmas in October is just one heartwarming example. Since 1991 and every year since, Labconco associates have participated in this worthy cause.

This Kansas City volunteer organization, started 33 years ago, has allowed needy families, the elderly, the disabled and veterans live in safety, warmth and dignity. Through its Adopt-A-House program, Christmas in October rehabilitates 350-400 homes every year.

Labconco associates and their families helping a community member

Mark Schmitz, our Christmas in October leader for several years, made all the preparations before the big day. Throughout the summer while Ron was hospitalized, Mark put his engineering expertise to work as he inspected the home for needed repairs. A new ramp to the front door, yard clean up, rotted trim replacement and house painting topped the list. Mark and his son Matthew spent a day building a ramp to Ron’s front door. Then the home was now ready for us to do the rest.

Many hands make light work. Our team cleaned the gutters, repaired the back stoop, scraped and painted the faded house, and removed excess foliage. Labconco associate Lesley McMillin commented, “It’s fun getting to know my co-workers better. And with such a big group working, it is great to see such a huge improvement in a short period of time for a person who needs it.”

Kevin Conley agreed. “Doing something good for our neighbors and being with my colleagues outside of work are what keeps me coming back every year.”

Labconco teaming up for Christmas in October 2016

After his first year working at Christmas in October, Scott Hamm added, “It was well organized and supported. I had a blast working on the house knowing that we were helping someone who truly needed it. When we finished, you could clearly see the results. It had a huge impact on the structure and surrounding environment.”

In the end, we provided an attractive home for the neighborhood and a safer home for Ron, while we left with a feeling of accomplishment and happy hearts. I’m ready for next year.

Thank you to our Labconco 2016 Christmas in October Participants:

  • Kevin Blood
  • Jeff and Ella Carlson
  • Kevin Conley
  • Kellie Franklin
  • Kevin Gilkison
  • Scott Hamm
  • Brent Hartwich
  • Brian Hays
  • Sue and Dave Herriman
  • Shirley and Dennis Hogenkamp
  • Adam Keithley
  • Nathan Ladd
  • Lesley and Ryan McMillin
  • Austin and Arielle Orme
  • Joe Reichert
  • Jacob Riedel
  • Mark Schmitz
  • Tom Schwaller
  • Jeff Stanton
  • Mick Thompson
Thu, 27 Oct 2016 06:15:00 6OctCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Video: Programming the CApture BT]]> To get clear, reliable results every time, it's important that your CA fuming chamber is easy to use. This programming video demonstrates how to get full control over the factors that can affect the outcome of your latent fingerprint fixing process. 

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 06:15:00 6OctCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Does lab equipment longevity really matter?]]> The purpose of some laboratory equipment is relatively straightforward. Like many of our competitors, the products in our catalog offer protection for personnel, products, and environments as required by application and to make laboratory spaces more versatile and efficient.

There's something else, though—something Labconco has not forgotten in all our 91 years of engineering and manufacturing the products that fill university teaching labs, forensic science facilities, clean rooms and more: Science is about people, and our job is to empower those people with the tools they need to excel. You see, it's not just about our work—it's about the important work of our extended family of customers.

We take this responsibility seriously, which is why we've long been committed to a manufacturing process that prioritizes quality. In many cases, our equipment even becomes obsolete before it fails. Take, for instance, one scientist’s experience with a laboratory cart that even outlasted its facility and found a new home in an old friend’s shop. We’re talking about Gene McGough, and you can read his story here: Laboratory Cart 604: A Love Story.

Lyophilizer Longevity

Laboratory carts aren't our only products that have long lives—not by a long shot. For example, in 2013, we set out in search of the oldest, still functional freeze dryer so we could learn its story (and offer its home lab a new FreeZone® Freeze Dryer, glassware credit, PrimeMate™ Oil Change System, and Mini Stoppering Chamber for humoring us). We were most impressed by the winning submission below from Mr. Kush Shah from Texas A&M. The unit was so old that we could no longer track the serial number, but Mr. Shah was still pleased with its operation.

"Our freeze dryer has been well maintained with pride and care by our lab members and operates perfectly... We will use the newly acquired equipment to perform cutting edge research in the field of nanotechnology and drug delivery," he told us.

There were numerous entries that received honorable mention, such as the one submitted by Sushma Trehan of Physical Optics Corp.

"I have used Labconco Freeze Dryers 'til they go obsolete. I want to use them 'til I go obsolete. I still have a few productive years left," she shared with us.

Final Thoughts

Now, there certainly are instances when antique lab equipment is simply too old to use, especially when containment is of utmost importance. All in all, though, we’re just glad that when we say you can count on us, you know that we can offer you equipment that will honor our word. That’s a very good feeling. 

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 05:30:00 5OctCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[VIDEO: Why you shouldn't hand wash laboratory glassware]]> Have you ever thought that washing glassware by hand in your laboratory seems a little old-fashioned? It's inefficient and unsafe. Hand washed glassware can contaminate your process and even skew results. And the hand washing process wastes water and time while presenting unnecessary safety hazards. 

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 06:45:00 6OctCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Laboratory Cart 604: A Love Story]]> In December of 1957, Gene McGough was interviewing for his job in a laboratory at the former Potash Company of America (PCA). A Labconco laboratory cart labeled 604 sat next to him, laden with 500 mL flasks. He got the job. Six months later, Gene bought a Jaguar XK-150. Two weeks after that, he was married—another love story for another time.

Photo: Gene's Kids with Jaguar, Courtesy of Gene McGough

Gene used Cart 604 throughout his six-year stint with PCA, often logging his hours with the cart by his side and the car in the lot. He eventually moved on to other career opportunities. Still, when he heard PCA had closed their operations and had plans to demolish his old laboratory, he knew he had to go back and rescue what he could.

Gene managed to save Cart 604 along with some other antique items. Cart 604, though, wasn’t built to collect dust. Neither was Gene.

Cart 604 has seen better days

Photo: Cart 604, Courtesy of Gene McGough

After he lubricated the casters and removed the side rails for cleaning, he spent two weeks on a mission of trial and error to find the correct positions for each of Cart 604’s pieces. Because the holes were individually hand-drilled, each rail was unique. He was successful.

Both Gene and Cart 604 continue to work to this day—only this time, they have a new project. Gene’s rescued, mostly-original Cart 604 now sits in his workshop, holding tools to help him restore his truly antique, powder blue Jaguar.

Cart with Jaguar parts

Photo: Cart 604 with Jaguar and parts, Courtesy of Gene McGough

Gene reports Cart 604 has survived the years better than his beloved car. But if his history of successful restoration is any indication, that Jaguar is sure to be purring in no time.

I want my pink Cart for the Cure

Cart for the Cure is a special, limited edition model of our popular Portable Table laboratory cart. It has all the great features of our standard Portable Table, except the 18 gauge welded tubular steel frame boasts the official Breast Cancer Awareness pink color!

For three months a year, from September through November, Cart for the Cure is sold at $100 off, and for each one sold, Labconco will donate $50.00 to the St. Luke's Foundation to help provide free mammograms to women who can't afford them.

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 07:15:00 7OctCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Racing and Curing: Labconco's Race for the Cure Tradition]]> What does tradition feel like? I’ve come to the age where I think a lot about traditions in my life… the things that my parents, my sisters and I ALWAYS did when I was a kid, those things that built anticipation when I knew the calendar was closing in, the memories that remained afterwards, the joy we share now talking about those times in the past. I think about things my own family does now that I hope are creating joyous memories for my own children.

I think about participating in the Race for the Cure as part of the Labconco Team over the past 5-6 years and what an absolute treasure chest of memories it holds for me. I’m blessed to be part of a company who values giving back to our community and also fosters a way for those of us who desire to do so, the ability to work together as a team in that act of giving back. Whether the Labconco Team is running in the race or working at the water station to serve H2O to weary runners, we are doing it together, as a team, just like everything else we do at Labconco. 

What a rush. What a ride. What a thrill. What a joy. What a pleasure it is to work with such great people every day and then hang out with them on an early Sunday morning to set up Water Station #3.

Diane Williamson, our unwavering leader for this event every year since we started participating, had us whipped into shape bright and early. Our station was set up, cups arranged, laid out, prepped, filled and layered with ample time to spare. She has turned this into a world-class serving system and conducts herself with class and grace, just like she does with our customers each and every day. 

Every Labconco team member who was there that morning served the racers with the same level of highest-tier service that I witness every day in our office environment as they go about serving our “paying customers.” You could hear it in their voices as they evaluated the race route on the map, as they tried to determine the best way to lay out the serving tables and the best places for us to stand to get the most water to the most runners in the least amount of time—without hampering the stride and pace of the runners. They even evaluated the optimal way to lay out the trash bins to leave the smallest amount of litter on the streets after we were done.

I’m thrilled just to have been there and to be part of a group of people who are truly there to serve to the best of their ability. It is more than just “Meh, I’m here to toss some cups of water at people.” They are there to give from their heart… above and beyond.

You never know what you’re going to get when it comes to race day weather. Welcome to the Midwest. We’ve had race mornings that were cold and rainy (which makes it very hard to give away water, let me tell you from experience), and mornings like we had this year, when we are a bit on the warmer side… with a water station on the sunny side of the race route, on the incline of a hill. I guess that made us the luckiest water station on the route because we were everyone’s best friends that morning. They were all glad to see us and very glad to accept our cups of dihydrogen monoxide.

Once the race kicks into high gear and the pace runners have zoomed past us at their 4-minute mile pace, the masses of people start to descend upon us and it really starts hopping. It’s amazing how quickly 10,000 people can go by, but it is so fun to engage with the runners, have fun with them as they enjoy race day and the costumes that dot the race route, cheer with those who cheer, chant with those who chant, sing with those who sing. We didn’t have the pleasure of being near a live band this year, so thankfully we had a Bluetooth speaker nearby to pump tunes from an iPod for us. It kept us jamming for the whole morning.

Race for the Cure is such a fun event. I'm proud of my family that participates with me, and to be a part of the tradition that it has become. They have a great time joining in and being a part of something with my larger Labconco family, all together for a great cause on a great day. We look forward to it every year, and already I cannot wait for next year.

I want my pink Cart for the Cure

Cart for the Cure is a special, limited edition model of our popular Portable Table laboratory cart. It has all the great features of our standard Portable Table, except the 18 gauge welded tubular steel frame boasts the official Breast Cancer Awareness pink color! For three months a year, from September through November, Cart for the Cure is sold at $100 off, and for each one sold, Labconco will donate $50.00 to the St. Luke's Foundation to help provide free mammograms to women who can't afford them.

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 06:30:00 6SepCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[93 year old Yale building gets over 150 new ClassMate fume hoods]]> Yale's Sterling Chemistry Lab was recently renovated to create a space for the students of today. Those transformations were recently unveiled, and will allow chemistry, physics and biology students to work in a 159,000 square foot updated space.

Among the changes for the 93-year-old building are the addition of over 150 Protector ClassMate® Fume Hoods in the teaching chemistry lab spaces.

The building, seeking LEED Gold certification, went through a major overhaul to update everything from electrical to ventilation in order to provide a modern space for scientific discovery. 

Find out more in the original YaleNews article, "Sterling Chemistry Lab reopens as a catalyst for cutting-edge science" by Jim Shelton

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:39:00 10SepCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[A well-engineered success story: KU's expansion project]]> Excerpts only: The full original article, "A well-engineered success story" by Jessica Burdg was published in Lab Design News on August 17, 2016. 

The University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence is a school known for its commitment to students, faculty and the community. Thanks to a recently completed expansion project, the School of Engineering is now better able to fulfill that commitment to its current and future engineering and computing students and faculty. The $105 million dollar project added 185,000 square feet of new construction and renovated existing structures to become a truly well-engineered success story for the university.

Graduating Game Changers

The success of its academic programs has never been an enrollment-only numbers game for KU. Nonetheless, KU Engineering’s goal was to increase the number of engineering graduates by more than 60 percent by 2021.

"You can increase enrollments all you want, but the School of Engineering took a different approach," Professor Robert Parsons, Director of Construction for the Engineering Expansion Project, said. "KU looked at these numbers and said, 'yes, we need to do more.' We want to support our students so they have everything they need to succeed and feel at home here."

That attitude, Parsons said, helps with both recruitment and retention.

Michael S. Branicky, KU's Dean of Engineering since 2013, said he believes the overarching goal of this project was to help graduates continue to go on to be leaders and innovators who affect the state, the country and the world.

"We have KU graduates everywhere from the aerospace industry to the headquarters of Uber. It's this real world notion that you're both learning and learning for a purpose," Branicky said. "For that, we know we need excellent faculty and an excellent facility."

. . . . 

Great lab space by Treanor Architects

Design Delivers New Collaborative Learning Spaces and State of the Art Laboratories

The first phase of the project, the construction of the Measurement, Materials and Sustainable Environment Center (M2SEC), was primarily funded by a grant from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) with a goal of promoting thematically based projects like materials characterization, sustainable building practices and alternative fuels research. Today, the building is a hotbed for innovation, including two "living walls" that monitor environmental change and a space to grow algae on the roof so that it can be compressed and refined to produce biofuels.

. . . .

Completed in Fall 2015, another critical component to the engineering expansion was the construction of the Learned Hall Engineering Expansion Phase 2 (LEEP2) building, which was built as a literal and figurative bridge between the existing engineering facility and the newly constructed M2SEC building.

LEEP2 boasts six active learning classrooms that hold 60 to 160 students. In these innovative spaces, students are engaged in small groups or complete collaborative work more often, thanks in part to a commitment to eliminate tiered or sloped floor classrooms like those often seen in traditional lecture halls...  

. . . .

Besides classrooms, LEEP2 has a number of teaching laboratories—over 11,500 square feet of them, to be exact—including spaces specialized for instrumentation, environmental engineering, building thermal science and more. Nearly 17,000 square feet is dedicated to research laboratories, such as those for analytical chemistry and bioengineering. LEEP2's laboratories feature a variety of state of the art laboratory equipment, including 34 Protector XStream High Efficiency Fume Hoods.

. . . .

Technology at work at KU Expansion Lab

Overcoming Challenges

Like any laboratory design or construction project, the KU Engineering Expansion did not come without its unique set of challenges. For instance, LEEP2 is sandwiched between three existing buildings—including the recently completed M2SEC. A key challenge of the design team was to join all these spaces to produce a cohesive environment that had adequate natural light.

. . . .

A Sustainable, Welcoming Space

LEEP2 adds something else already prevalent among the many buildings across KU's campus: efficiency. The university mandates that their facilities exceed ASHRAE 90.1, and this project did by a minimum of 30 percent. To satisfy this goal, LEEP2 employs the use of heat recovery chillers, energy recovery systems, low VOC adhesives and paints, and a rainwater collection system that pipes fresh water into restrooms.

. . . .

"Prospective students and faculty come in and they see the facilities, the research labs that are very hood-intensive but also very reconfigurable, and they want to stay here," Dean Branicky said. "We've been able to recruit people specifically because of the quality of the laboratory space."

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 05:00:00 5SepCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Freeze dryer accessories make life (and lyo!) easier]]> Freeze drying, or lyophilization, is a time consuming process that can be easy or difficult depending on the sample type, sample size and requirements. Using accessories designed for specific samples and challenging applications helps make lyophilizing these samples easier.

Accessories for Stoppering Under Vacuum

When samples are stoppered under vacuum, their shelf life is increased dramatically. Placing airtight seals on the vials before they are exposed to the atmosphere where they can absorb moisture keeps the samples drier. Stoppering under vacuum is determined by your quantity and budget. There are three choices, and deciding which to use depends on the size and number of samples you have.

The first option is a stoppering tray dryer. Although they require a substantial investment, stoppering tray dryers can handle large quantities of samples and offer sophisticated programming capabilities. The FreeZone® Stoppering Tray Dryer has three temperature-controlled shelves (-40° C to +40° C) with 588 square inches of area on which to place samples, which can hold up to four hundred 2 ml serum bottles.

The second option, less expensive than the first, is a stoppering chamber or shelf, which connects to the collector like a drying chamber. Essentially, it is a clear chamber with two heated shelves (+40° C) that provide 158 square inches of area. The Clear Stoppering Chamber has a handle that, when turned, applies pressure to the shelves, collapsing them onto one another and pushing the stoppers into the vials. It holds fewer samples than the FreeZone Stoppering Tray Dryer and uses a more manual process, but the Clear Stoppering Chamber makes sense if your stoppering needs are infrequent or on a smaller scale.

The smallest and most economical accessory for stoppering under vacuum is the Mini Stoppering Chamber. This small chamber connects directly to the valve of a drying chamber or manifold like a flask. It has an area of approximately 18 square inches and is ideal for very small sample sizes or just a few samples that need to be stoppered. It accommodates small bottles and has a capacity of up to forty-eight 2 milliliter bottles or eight 30 milliliter serum bottles. Paired with an isolation valve and a clean bench, the Mini Stoppering Chamber can make stoppering under vacuum in a sterile environment easy.

Accessories to Prevent Sample Melt Back

Unfortunately, sample melt back occurs frequently with several common sample types. The best way to prevent sample melt back is to limit the heat transferring into the sample. This is difficult when freeze drying in a flask, as the heat input is essentially the room temperature that cannot be easily regulated.

Labconco offers Flask Holders that insulate a sample by holding a sample flask inside a larger flask. This creates an even air gap around the sample flask and slows the heat transfer from the room air to the sample.

Alternate options to avoid sample melt back are to insulate the sample container with other materials. A flask can be wrapped with any sort of insulating material, such as packing foam, to create a barrier between the sample and room atmosphere. For samples in a tube, simply place the tube in a flask, fill the flask with water and freeze the entire flask. This creates an insulation of ice all the way around your sample that will lyophilize with your sample.

Freeze Dryer Attachments for Ampules

An Ampule Pod for use with FreeZone Freeze DryersAmpules are glass tubes that are made for very small samples that will be heat sealed under vacuum. Traditionally, ampules are used for long-term storage making it critical they are sealed under vacuum. Due to their size, special accommodations must be taken when connecting them to the collector and it is difficult to lyophilize large numbers of samples at the same time.  

An Ampule Valve Adapter allows a single ampule to be connected directly to a single valve. The Three Way Adapter allows three ampules to be connected to a single valve.

A new option is an Ampule Pod (pictured at right), which connects to a valve and has separate tubes that hold ampules allowing 15 ampules to be freeze dried at once!

Microplates in Freeze Dryers

Samples in microplates can be difficult to freeze dry. Because of their very small size (<1 ml), they are prone to melt back during transfer from the freezer to the freeze dryer and when establishing deep vacuum levels.

Labconco’s new Microwell Plate Holder can help! The molded aluminum block provides a solid mass for better temperature regulation and conduction. The design eliminates the air gap between the bottom of the plate and the freeze dryer’s shelves ensuring good heat conduction throughout the run and reducing the run time. By pre-freezing the entire block, there is more mass around the samples, which insulates and keeps them frozen until reaching deep vacuum.

Accessories for Pre-freezing Flasks

Freezing a sample in a flask at an angle has several advantages over freezing a sample in an upright flask (stub freezing).

The Slant Freeze Flask Holder keeps liquid samples at an angle when pre-freezing. Because liquid expands when freezing, the angled sample puts less pressure on the flask than stub freezing to help prevent the glass from breaking. It also allows for faster freeze drying by increasing the surface area and putting more of the sample in contact with the glass for better heat transfer.

Each freeze drying sample type presents unique challenges, but the right accessories can make the job easier. Labconco is here to help you find solutions to your freeze drying dilemmas.

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 06:00:00 6SepCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Laminar flow in the laboratory: What you need to know]]> What is laminar flow?

Type C1 Laminar flow hood in A-Mode and B-Mode

Laminar flow is defined as airflow in which the entire body of air within a designated space is uniform in both velocity and direction.

According to the CDC, the laminar air flow principle was first developed in the early 1960s. It's still incredibly relevant for modern labs, having literally shaped the way air safely moves in many generations of laboratory enclosures. Today, many categories of laminar flow hoods exist. Although they differ depending on the science performed within, there is one common denominator: all use this type of unidirectional airflow to aid in maintaining sterility, preventing cross-contamination and reducing turbulence.

Just what exactly is laminar air flow, why is it effective and what does it look like in labs today? Let's explore.

How is laminar air flow utilized in different types of equipment?

Class II Biosafety Cabinets, sometimes referred to as laminar flow hoods, maintain product protection through HEPA-filtered laminar downflow over the work zone. Per the NSF definition, these ventilated cabinets also feature inward airflow at the open front to protect operators and HEPA filtered exhaust air for environmental protection. 

Class II, Type A cabinets recirculate air back into the laboratory unless a canopy connection is warranted. Class II, Type B cabinets are hard-ducted to the outside. Class II, Type C1 cabinets can function in either Type A or Type B mode. Whichever model suits your application, safe operation within biological safety cabinets is imperative to protect the integrity of your work and your personal safety.

PCR stations, enclosures that are specifically designed to house polymerase chain reaction experiment, utilize the vertical laminar flow of HEPA-filtered air to maintain a particulate-free work environment. A UV light is necessary to denature genetic material (DNA, RNA, etc.) and provide secondary decontamination.

Clean benches are suitable for applications that require product protection, such as media plate preparation or tissue culture maintenance. Air is drawn in through a prefilter located at the top of the clean bench before being pulled through a HEPA filter.

In a vertical clean bench, laminar air is then projected vertically over the work area. In a horizontal clean bench, laminar air is projected horizontally towards the operator. In both instances, laminar flow provides a particulate-free work area.

(Note that some categories of laboratory equipment, like Class I enclosures with perforated baffles or certain high performance fume hoods, employ laminar-like flow. Watch: Airflow in a Class I Enclosure.)

So, what is zoned airflow?

Zoned airflow is not truly laminar. Zoned airflow is used when equipment cannot achieve all of the protection required of a Class II biosafety cabinet with standard laminar airflow. Each zone, or column, of airflow is defined and has its own range in airspeed. This allows for higher speed barrier air columns to be utilized as an engineering solution to equipment that otherwise would have poor containment or product protection ratings.

How does laminar flow differ from dilution flow?

Dilution flow is not the same as laminar air flow. The dilution flow principle is used in equipment such as filtered glove boxes. In these instances, HEPA-filtered air mixes with and dilutes interior airborne contaminants inside the glove box, and those contaminants are removed via a filtered exhaust system. After the contamination source has been sealed, the dilution rate—or air changes per minute—will determine how much time must lapse before materials can be removed from the main chamber.

What is turbulent flow?

While laminar air flow helps to reduce turbulence, turbulent flow encourages it by creating unintentional swirls of air that place particles randomly on surfaces within an enclosure. Turbulent flow can be disruptive to work that requires a dust-free environment and can lead to contamination. Obstructions, like items left inside enclosures, can create this unwanted turbulence.

For more information on laminar flow or to see it in action, watch this video demonstration:

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 05:30:00 5SepCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Press Release: Axiom biosafety cabinet honored as a finalist for R&D 100 Awards for Innovation]]> P R E S S     R E L E A S E

For release: August 31, 2016

"Never innovate to compete, innovate to change the rules of the game." -David O. Adeife

Kansas City, MO--Since its release in June 2015, the Purifier® Axiom® —a Class II, Type C1 biological safety cabinet that can function in either Type A or Type B mode—has made waves in laboratory spaces across the country (like this one at Creighton University).  Now, this Type C1 cabinet has been named as one of 100 finalists for the 2016 R&D Awards, an annual event that honors the most innovative technologies of the year.

The list of finalists for what is sometimes called the "Oscars of Innovation" is compiled by over 50 independent judges, many hailing from leading national laboratories and top R&D companies. The selection process is stringent, and the list of finalists includes heavy hitters such as Dow Oil, Gas and Mining, General Motors Research and Development Center, Agilent Technologies and many more.

The Axiom was recognized in the Mechanical Devices/Materials category. The full list of categories for the 54th annual R&D 100 Awards includes Software/Services, IT/Electrical and Green Tech, and many others. Winners in all categories will be announced at a gala to be held November 3 in Washington D.C.

Why the Axiom?

Until now, microbiological laboratories have had to choose between Class II, Type A2 or Class II, Type B2 biosafety cabinets to meet their personnel, product and environmental protection needs. While application and protection considerations have not changed, something else has—the options for selecting a cabinet. Because the Axiom is an entirely new type of Class II biosafety cabinet, it can function in either Type A or Type B mode, saving money, time and energy in the process.

Wondering what makes it work? It has a lot to do with airflow—and a lot do with the perseverance of the team of user-first designers and engineers at Labconco.

Senior Products Engineer Jim Hunter and Product Manager Brian Garrett, two of the brains behind what's been appropriately dubbed the BSC no-brainer, have spoken in the past about the challenges of developing an entirely new type of biosafety cabinet. Since R&D's list of finalists was released in August of 2016, though, they've had to prepare an altogether new type of statement: one of acknowledgement of their team's success.

"The Axiom challenges many of the preconceptions of what a biosafety cabinet should be; it is far more flexible in its installation, either connected to an exhaust system or not," Hunter said. "And, for the first time, the BSC takes an active role in protecting the user, even in the event of an exhaust system failure."

Garrett added that the goal of the project was to add flexibility to laboratory spaces while increasing safety in the industry for scientists doing all kinds of important work in the field.

"It's an incredibly big deal to be going up against the gorillas of innovation and invention in our space, and we're proud of what our team was able to accomplish," he said. 

Learn more about the Purifier Axiom

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 14:06:00 14SepCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Cart for the Cure: Keep on rolling!]]> Promotions are always great, but when they support a charitable cause, they’re all the better! Each fall Labconco does just that with Cart for the Cure™. This will be our sixth year running this promotion and we couldn’t be happier.

To create the Cart, we chose the official Breast Cancer Awareness pink to paint our Labconco Portable Table. In our Fort Scott, KS facility where these carts are manufactured, the entire paint line from the booth to the hoses to the air handling system is emptied and cleaned before being filled with the pink paint. Each Cart for the Cure’s 18-gauge welded tubular steel frame then receives its glowing, pink coat. The paint line’s whole draining and cleaning process is repeated when the pink is removed. Because of this, the carts are produced in large batches to limit the number of times the paint colors must be changed. Luckily, our new paint system drastically reduces the time required for the process.

I want my Pink Cart for the Cure

A large batch of pink "Carts for the Cure" on the Labconco Fort Scott, KS paint line

The cart includes all of the features of our Portable Table – sturdy steel construction, two open shelves, ergonomic molded plastic handle grips and a lifetime guarantee. Each shelf runs the full length and width of the cart for more than 625 square inches of storage space per shelf! The final touch is a pink ribbon identification tag to hang from the frame to ensure everyone knows the meaning behind the cart.

How it works: Donations and savings

Labconco donates $50 for each cart purchased to the Saint Luke’s Foundation. When we began this journey, the donation went to the Spelman Medical Foundation, so when Spelman merged with the Saint Luke’s Foundation on January 1, 2013, we continued our commitment. These organizations do great work to provide health information and services to uninsured and underinsured women as well as seniors. They are particularly focused on breast and ovarian cancer and provide mammograms to women who cannot afford them.

Furthermore, for three months during the fall, usually September through November, Labconco offers an extra incentive. To bring more awareness to breast cancer from the month before until the month after the national (U.S.) Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), the cart’s list price is lowered by $100. The $50 donation continues year-round. Many of our dealers participate and share the promotion as well, allowing us to see continued growth in the popularity of this wonderful promotion.

Within Labconco, we have a Pink Cart Team to promote Cart for the Cure and manage internal fundraisers including food sales and raffles during the months of the promotion. We also participate in the Race for the Cure put on by Susan G. Komen of Greater Kansas City. At the end of each year, Labconco presents the full donation to the Saint Luke’s Foundation.

I want my Pink Cart for the Cure

For more information on Cart for the Cure, contact Labconco. Please help us spread the word about this dynamic promotion that offers money savings and a donation to a worthy cause!

Cart for the Cure Donation 2016, based on 2015 sales
Most recent Cart for the Cure donation
Diane Williamson, Labconco Sr. Application Specialist, and Kelly Williams, Labconco Product Manager, met with Jan Kauk, Saint Luke’s Sr. Director of Development, and other members of their staff to present the check.

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 06:15:00 6AugCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[On-demand webinar: Safe alternatives to the traditional ducted fume hood]]> In concjunction with Lab Manager Magazine and Erlab, Labconco presents this on-demand webinar. We define the various ductless hoods currently available, explaining advantages and disadvantages of "going ductless." We also discuss criteria for selecting a ductless or filtered fume hood, appropriate uses for them, and we present case studies where filtered technology has been successfully implemented.

Originally broadcast August 16, 2016

Watch the archived video at On24

Ductless and filtered fume hoods can be a reliable, energy efficient, cost effective and eco-friendly alternative to traditional ducted fume hoods. Traditional ducted hoods are one of the largest energy wasters in most laboratories; they require costly mechanical components to operate properly and rapidly pass valuable tempered air out of your facility. Ductless and filtered solutions can lower energy costs while providing a safe environment to work with hazardous chemicals when properly implemented.

You will learn:

  • How to significantly lower energy costs
  • Advantages and disadvantages of using ductless and filtered fume hoods
  • How to select the right ductless or filtered hood for your application
  • Appropriate applications for ductless vs. ducted hoods in your lab


Beth Mankameyer
Sales Engineer, Chemical Fume Hoods
Labconco Corp.

Ken Crooks
Director of GreenFumeHood Filtration Technology


Tue, 30 Aug 2016 05:15:00 5AugCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Lyophilization, evaporation or concentration: Which is best for my samples?]]> Lyophilization, vacuum evaporation and nitrogen blow-down evaporation are all methods to reduce sample volume; however, each method involves a different process and affects samples differently. It is important to identify which evaporation method is most appropriate for your sample in order to identify the right specific equipment to use.

Lyophilization, evaporation and concentration cause liquid or solid molecules to undergo phase changes, resulting in aqueous or solvent molecules leaving the sample as a vapor. The main force that drives the phase change is heat energy. The best evaporation method for a sample is mainly determined by how much heat the sample can withstand.

Forces that Catalyze Evaporation

lyophilization equipmentIf a sample is not affected by heat, simply place the sample on a hot plate and let it boil until the sample volume is reduced to the desired level. Unfortunately, most samples are affected by heat, with biological samples being the most sensitive. In heat sensitive samples, the amount of heat driving the phase change must be limited or the sample will be damaged. When heat is limited, other forces must be used to drive molecules through the phase change instead.

Applying a vacuum atmosphere is a common technique used to force molecules through the phase change during evaporation or lyophilization. Boiling points of liquids are greatly reduced under vacuum, so phase changes occur at lower temperatures and less heat input is required. As a result, vacuum concentration or lyophilization are the most optimal methods for biological or heat sensitive samples.

Another technique that expedites the phase change of solvents is introducing a nitrogen stream at the surface of samples. The nitrogen stream disrupts the balance between the liquid and vapor phase and encourages the molecules to move into the vaporous phase. As a general rule, nitrogen blow down evaporation requires a higher heat input than vacuum evaporation. Because of this, nitrogen blow down evaporation is commonly used for volatile solvents or samples that are not damaged at moderate temperatures.

Lyophilization (Also Know as Freeze Drying)

Lyophilizers use deep vacuum (< .200 mbar) and heat to remove moisture from a sample. The drying process, or phase change, in lyophilization is unique and is called sublimation. In sublimation, molecules go directly from the solid phase (ice) to a gaseous phase (vapor) without passing through the liquid phase.  Lyophilization requires a frozen sample.  If the sample’s freezing point is suppressed by the presence of solvents, the solvents should be removed with vacuum concentration prior to lyophilization so that the sample can then be frozen solid.

By circumventing the liquid phase in sublimation, the biological viability of many samples is preserved. This makes lyophilization a unique type of evaporation as it also preserves biological samples.

View Lyophilizers

Vacuum Concentration/Evaporation

In vacuum concentration/evaporation, the sample is dried by converting liquid to vapor. Vacuum concentrators and evaporators take the liquid sample to 99% dryness in a relatively short amount of time and can accommodate most samples regardless of their freezing or boiling point.

Vacuum concentrators and evaporators are commonly used in sample preparation, and use centrifugal force, heat and vacuum to remove moisture from a sample. What makes concentrators different from evaporators is how the centrifugal force is generated and how the heat is supplied to the sample.

In a vacuum concentrator, samples are held in a rotor that spins at 1700 RPM creating a centrifugal force.  The centrifugal force prevents liquids from bumping out of the tube when vacuum is applied. Heat is applied indirectly through the walls of the vacuum chamber.

A vortex evaporator uses centrifugal force, heat and vacuum to remove moisture from a sample. Unlike the spinning motion of a vacuum concentrator, the vortex evaporator creates a vortex motion within the sample container so that centrifugal force holds the sample into its container while vacuum is applied to the liquid sample. Without an opposing force to hold the sample into its container, it would “bump,” or splatter out of its container. Vortex motion, washes the analyte (analyzed material) down the sidewalls of the glassware, increasing the recovery of the analytes being tested. In vortex evaporation, heat is applied directly into a sample through a block that holds the sample.

View Vacuum Concentrators

Nitrogen Blow-Down Evaporation

Nitrogen blow-down evaporators use heat and a nitrogen stream to evaporate moisture from a sample. Evaporation rates can be increased if a vortex motion is created to increase the surface area of the sample. Dry block heaters are commonly used in these evaporators and offer many advantages over water baths.

View Nitrogen Blow Down Evaporators

Use the Lab Evaporation Scout™ to determine the perfect model for your needs.

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 07:30:00 7AugCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[How many trees are there in a grove?]]> A single large tree can produce enough clean oxygen to support four people, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. So the answer is simple: There can never be too many.

But what if you planted an entire forest?

With the help of the Arbor Day Foundation, Labconco has planted 725 trees as part of our commitment to our environment and to expanding sustainable building practices. And we aren’t finished yet. For every Protector® Echo™ or Airo™ Filtered Fume Hood your laboratory invests in, Labconco will plant another grove of trees. 

Planting trees is our way of doubling the positive environmental impact that your laboratory makes when you put a filtered hood where a traditional hood may have otherwise gone. Much like a tree converting CO2 into oxygen, filtered fume hoods turn chemically contaminated air into clean, life-sustaining air.

Other environmental benefits

For some laboratory applications, filtered hoods are the best way to save energy as well. Since standard fume hoods pump your heated or air-conditioned air out of the building, they’re often the largest energy drain (and the largest utility expense) for organizations that support a scientific lab. That’s another way filtered fume hoods help your lab leave a much smaller carbon footprint while lowering energy bills.

A fume hood expert can tell you how a filtered fume hood would affect your laboratory, your environment and your budget.

Ask a fume hood expert

Labconco is a U.S. Green Building Council member, and Our Green Initiatives include planting a fume hood forest and our LEED program for environmental, energy efficient design.

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 05:45:00 5AugCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[The good, the bad and the ugly of UV light usage in a Class II BSC]]> For decades, germicidal UV lamps have been used in Class II Biological Safety Cabinets. The purpose is to keep a biosafety cabinet’s interior clean when not in use. Many researchers swear by the use of their UV lamp and would never consider owning or buying an enclosure without one. Others believe UV lamps provide a false sense of security or don’t see the merit in a UV lamp (such as the NIH). Germicidal lamps utilize UVc radiation (typically at 254 nm wavelength). This energy is very good at doing a specific task, but it’s a poor broad spectrum decontaminant, and here is why:

The Good:UVc is a recommended accessory for your BSC or laminar flow bench when working with cell cultures, PCR or other genetic materials because UVc radiation is efficient at breaking up chemical bonds and denaturing DNA and RNA. Under prolonged exposure, these chemical changes lead to dysfunctional genetic material and eventual cell death.

The Bad: Germicidal lamps use low energy radiation—so low that the waves are incapable of penetrating barriers or of reflecting from most surfaces. This simply means that for UV lamps to be effective, the target MUST be in direct line of sight with the light source. This is bad if you are using a germicidal lamp as the primary decontaminant in your lab’s culture enclosure. However, for those folks populating the lab or standing outside of the enclosure with nothing but a sheet of glass between them and the blue tube of light, this is a good thing. It means that sheet of glass is more than sufficient to block you from becoming irradiated.

The Ugly: Use of a UV lamp for the purpose of primary decontamination is rampant, as is the frequency of cross contamination. True, cross contamination can be caused by a number of factors – but experience shows that labs utilizing UV lamps as the only means of “cleaning” their BSC have a higher prevalence of such issues.

Two simple rules for using UV lamps

1.     If you are using “naked” DNA / RNA or performing PCR... UV lamps are excellent at rendering these materials harmless.

2.     If you are doing anything else with biological material… do not rely on UV lamps alone to keep your work area clean. ALWAYS wipe down exposed surfaces with a proper decontaminant PRIOR to turning on the UV lamp. ALWAYS wipe down exposed surfaces with a proper decontamination AFTER turning off the UV lamp.


Learn about the new Type C1 biosafety cabinet. It does the work of an A2 and a B2 at a lower cost of ownership.

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 04:15:00 4AugCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[How long will it take to freeze dry my samples?]]>

People in the lab often contact us with the seemingly germane question, “How long will it take to freeze dry my samples?” We wish we could give a definitive answer to this question, however the answer we have to give is: It depends. Given the numerous potential applications and conditions, the length of the freeze dry process will vary.

The majority of laboratory samples will lyophilize in 24 to 48 hours but there are certainly exceptions.

The freeze drying process is dependent on a variety of factors that determine the amount of time the freeze drying process requires.

Sample type

The freezing temperature (eutectic point) of the sample and the presence of salts, sugars, or solvents will influence the length of time required to lyophilize successfully. A low freezing point sample or one that is susceptible to melt back, will require a longer lyophilization cycle.

Sample size

The more volume to lyophilize, the longer the freeze dry run.

Flask size

Spreading a sample out over a greater surface area allows more contact for heat input and shortens the distance in which the drying front has to move through the sample. As a general rule, freeze dry flasks should be filled to only one-third of their total volume.

How the sample was frozen

Faster pre-freezing rates, result in the formation of small ice crystals. Small ice crystals generally require longer freeze drying runs. When samples have small ice crystals, the cake that is formed in subl

imation, is less porous and harder for water molecules to move through. This slows the sublimation rate.

Freeze dry system

It is important to select the correct freeze dryer for the sample. The freeze dryer’s collector should be 15°C-20°C colder than the sample’s freezing point. The instantaneous load capacity and the collector capacity should be able to accommodate the sample volume. If either one of these parameters are undersized, the rate of sublimation will be affected.

Amount of heat and how heat is transferred to the sample

Energy in the form of heat is what is driving the lyophilization process. The more heat that the sample gets, the faster the run.

Because freeze drying is such a popular laboratory method, there are thousands of methods published on a wide variety of sample types. Before you begin, search online for published methods for your type of sample or as close to your sample type as you can find. Use the published parameters as a starting point.

When developing a lyophilization protocol the first objective should be to first; freeze dry successfully, then optimize the run time.  We recommend beginning your method development with non-valuable samples that are similar to your real sample, as it may take several trials to get the parameters correct.

Once a working protocol is established that produces consistent results, then freeze dry the more valuable samples. After you have established a method that is producing good results, the next step is to tweak the parameters to reduce the run time.

To learn more about optimizing lyophilization parameters, read the article, How to Freeze Dry Faster.

Now here are some examples of applications and their typical run times from FreeZone customers.

Wed, 03 Aug 2016 05:00:00 5AugCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Infographic: How to Select the Right CA Fuming Chamber]]> This infographic explains the variables you'll want to take into consideration when selecting a cyanoacrylate (CA) or superglue fuming chamber for your forensics laboratory.

The method has lasted for decades and has been adopted worldwide for one reason - it's the best process for fixing latent fingerprints on non-porous or semi-porous evidence. 

Tue, 26 Jul 2016 05:00:00 5JulCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[4 Reasons You Should Use a Remote Blower Instead of a Built-In Blower]]> Fume Hood Blowers: An Exhausting Subject

A blower, or exhaust fan, is a very important part of a fume hood system. It is the component that moves air through the fume hood. Many people are under the impression that all fume hoods come with a built-in (or integral) blower.

A built-in blower is mounted right above the fume hood. In that scenario, the blower pushes the contaminated air out from the hood, through the ductwork, to the outside.

In most labs, however, a remote blower is used, as shown in the Typical Fume Removal System graphic to the right. This means the blower is located remotely from the fume hood, on the rooftop typically, and pulls the air all the way through the duct work to be exhausted outside. 

There are many things to consider when choosing a blower. Here are four reasons why you should always use a remote blower over an integral blower.

1. Fume hoods with built-in blowers to duct outside do not meet ANSI Z9.5!

If your specification requires compliance with ANSI Z9.5, you must use a remote blower. Section 5.4.4 of ANSI/AIHA Z9.5-2012 clearly states:

Laboratory exhaust fans shall be located as follows:

  • Physically outside the laboratory building and preferably on the highest-level roof of the building served. This is the preferred location since it generally minimizes risk of personnel coming into contact with the exhaust airflow.
  • In a roof penthouse or a mechanical equipment room on the roof that is always maintained at a negative static pressure with respect to the rest of the facility, and provides direct fan discharge into the exhaust stack(s).

So if your blower is mounted on top of your fume hood, it won’t be “physically outside of the laboratory building” and it won’t be located in a “mechanical equipment room that is always maintained at a negative static pressure with respect to the rest of the facility.”

2. Remote blowers are safer

A remote blower is a failsafe, meaning if there is a leak in the duct work at any point, the duct is kept under negative pressure. In the event of a leak, clean air will be pulled through that leak and exhausted out, instead of pushing contaminated air out of that leak (as a built-in blower would).

If you have an application with hazardous chemicals or a building where your fume hood duct run goes through multiple occupied floors, a remote blower should be used.

3. Built-in blowers are not a one-size-fits-all

Every blower has a blower curve chart that shows under what circumstances the blower can operate properly. This includes the static pressure and CFM requirements (shown in the figure to the left).

The mechanical system has to fit the integral blower. So even though you have a duct run that is only 10 feet long, that does not mean it will work well.

It will most likely require a manual control damper to add resistance to the line. Blowers require a certain amount of resistance, or static pressure, to work effectively.

Think of it like using a blender to make a smoothie, if the ice doesn’t fall to the blades, the motor goes too fast and you can sometimes smell the motor burning up since it does not have any resistance to work against. It’s the same concept for a blower motor – it requires resistance to work properly.

4. Built-in blowers are louder

Noise issues can arise for a couple different reasons, but there is no doubt, when the blower is sitting right on top of the fume hood, it will be louder than if it were mounted on the rooftop. If there is noise sensitivity, for example in a classroom setting, it’s highly recommended to have a remote blower so the teacher doesn’t have to speak over the blower motor while teaching.

The air turbulence itself can create noise as well.

Things that contribute to the air noise are the duct material (metal is loudest), and the duct run design (the more bends, the louder). So it is always recommended to put 3 to 5 duct diameters of straight duct before and after each bend, and off the fume hood exhaust collar, in order to straighten the air colun and reduce the turbulence. 

Those are the four reasons a remote blower should be used over a built-in blower. Obviously there are scenarios where a built-in blower must be used, but one should always consider a remote blower first, then move from there.

I would only recommend using a built-in blower if you absolutely cannot use a remote blower.

And now here's a helpful graphic explaining positive (+) and negative (-) pressure as it relates to blower location and safety. Enjoy.

Thu, 21 Jul 2016 05:00:00 5JulCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Water World – Quenching Your Thirst For Purified Water]]> Trying to find a laboratory without purified water is like trying to find someone who enjoyed the movie "Waterworld." It’s... Well… It’s challenging. From solutions and dilutions to washing, water is widely used in science.

So it’s only a matter of time before you will have to decide on a water purification system for your laboratory.

Fortunately, determining the best type of water purification system for your lab won’t require a journey into "The Abyss." Just take a look at these common laboratory experiments and their recommended water purity grades to find a match for your application.

General Water

Does your lab need to feed Type I water systems, rinse glassware with purified water, or feed glassware washers and autoclaves? If you answered yes, then your lab needs Type III water, also known as Reverse Osmosis (RO) water. Type III water is the most widespread type of laboratory water and has 90 to 99% of contaminants removed via an RO filter.

Labconco’s WaterPro RO System for Type III water features a production rate of 1 L/min and storage for 17L of purified water for painless integration with glassware washers and Type I water systems.

Analytical Water

Do you perform HPLC, GC, ICP-MS, Atomic Adsorption, In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Cell/Tissue Culture or Buffer Preparations? If so, then Type I water, the purest form of laboratory water, is recommended. Type I water, which is achieved by polishing RO water through carbon and deionization filters, is also known as Ultrapure or 18 Megohm water.

Labconco’s WaterPro PS Systems for Type I water come in easy-to-understand configurations tailored to the most specific needs of any chemist or biologist. With options for UV reactors, trace organic filters, plus ultrafilters and a production rate of up to 1.8L/min, Labconco WaterPro PS Systems deliver ultrapure water for any task.

Need both Type I and III water? Pair up the WaterPro RO and PS systems for high output. Try the cost-effective WaterPro BT, a space-saving benchtop model, for laboratories that require < 10 liters of purified Type I and III water.

Now that you’re out of "Open Water" and into the "Blue Lagoon" of water purification, you’re ready to lead your lab from the dry land of "Mad Max" by diving "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea." You can groan now!

Have an application or water type that wasn’t covered? Labconco is just a phone call away at 800-821-5525.

As a bonus, below we have a valuable graphic on water types to "wet" your appetite.

Tue, 19 Jul 2016 05:00:00 5JulCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Flexible equipment optimizes modular lab design]]> Modularity is a recurring request in new lab designs. With the laboratory’s technology needs and space requirements constantly changing, modular design offers the capacity to change a specific laboratory's function simply by moving a few things around or repurposing existing equipment.

Modular design makes it easy to bring in new equipment or remove unwanted equipment without the hassle of a complete redesign, demolition and the associated costs.

However, modularity could cause issues for the tried-and-true workhorses of the standard laboratory. Example: The chemical fume hood, a necessity in almost every lab.

Traditional chemical fume hoods are designed to evacuate noxious or hazardous chemical vapors from the building by physically ducting them through the structure and out of a roof-mounted blower . Unfortunately, in the process of evacuating fumes, a large amount of conditioned (heated or cooled) lab air goes along for the ride. The process is hardly cost effective or green – it is estimated that exhausted air costs $7 to $8 per CFM per year.

In an effort to address issues like this, there are many laboratory equipment products that provide modularity through flexibility.

Hazardous Chemical Applications

Ductless fume hoods and enclosures are self-contained and use carbon filtration to efficiently adsorb chemical fumes and vapors. Air that has been scrubbed of these contaminants is then returned to the laboratory. Since the tempered air (heated, cooled, and/or dehumidified) never leaves the building, great energy and budgetary savings are gained. By avoiding ducting to the outside, ductless hoods offer the flexibility of making traditionally stationary units mobile. Furthermore, the wide array of filter types for some ductless hoods and the robust chemical containment and filtration of filtered fume hoods, offer great flexibility for changing hazardous chemical practices.

Ductless hoods come in three different configurations. Ductless Hoods Tier 1 (DH I) are used for nonhazardous chemistry. These are great for staining operations or handling chemicals that are not hazardous but may be a nuisance or cause sensitization. Ductless Hoods Tier II & III (DH II & DH III) can both be used with chemicals and with specific operations the hood manufacturer approves.

Hazardous Compounds & Particles (non-biological)

Handling hazardous chemicals and their associated vapors through mass airflow typically follows the age-old rule that “the solution to pollution is dilution.” Fortunately, filtration can be used to “green” this philosophy. However, unlike work that produces chemical fumes, work with potent chemical powders, environmental soils, asbestos and similar materials cannot be addressed through mass airflow or carbon filtration. Rather, it requires particulate filters, often in the form of High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.

Self-contained HEPA filtered enclosures provide user protection while handling, opening or processing materials that cannot be controlled through mass airflow and dilution alone. They can often be mounted on existing bench space or on wheeled stands for mobility. Furthermore, these environmental enclosures can be configured with features, suiting them to specific tasks (ie.bag-in/bag-out HEPA filter systems, waste chutes and ULPA filters).

Microbiology & Biohazardous Material

Things you cannot see can indeed cause harm to you, your coworkers, and your laboratory. In this case we are referring to biohazardous aerosols. Often as an effect of simple microbiological processes, gross amounts of aerosolization can occur and is rarely visually noticeable and often is not realized. Such processes are not limited to, but include homogenization, vortexing, pipetting, aspiration, material mixing and transfers, glove removal, using syringes, stirring, and grinding.

These applications call for a specialized hood called a biological safety cabinet (BSC). Evolving from the “laminar flow biohazard hoods” of the 1970’s, these also come in various forms and configurations. A risk assessment will quickly point to which of the variations is required for any given procedure. In brief, Class I BSCs protect the operator and laboratory from the microbiology within. Class II & Class III BSCs protect the operator, laboratory from hazards within and also the process from room contamination. Class III BSCs (biological isolators or glove boxes) provide the maximum level of protection by creating a physical barrier between the work and the operator, but are ungainly to work in.

If chemicals are included with the microbiological work then connecting that BSC to an exhaust system may be required (similar to a chemical fume hood). Flexible BSC designs like the Class II, Type A2 with canopy or the new Class II, Type C1 offer increased flexibility of installation. Only the Type C1 has the flexibility of both installation and containing hazardous biology and chemistry.

Vacuum Networks

The majority of modern laboratories are built with vacuum network lines. However, before tapping into these networks, first determine what kind of work the vacuum will be doing for you and the lab and the potential consequences of using a common vacuum source for your work. Vacuum networks are built into a building’s infrastructure, and once in place offer very little flexibility. Local and lab selected vacuum pumps and systems offer great flexibility and mobility, but come at a cost to the lab’s budget – not the entire building’s budget.

If you perform aspirations on samples containing controlled or infectious materials using a vacuum network, the entire network can become contaminated with hazardous materials. Furthermore, you could cross contaminate the vacuum for the lab next door or on another floor. Consider the cost effectiveness and risk mitigation of using dedicated vacuum systems for such operations.

Also consider the depth of vacuum required for the work. Lyophilization (or freeze drying) requires a considerably deeper vacuum than built-in vacuum networks can provide. Before installing a lyophilizer, concentrator, evaporator or dessicator, know what vacuum levels will be needed and plan accordingly.

Laboratory Water (Deionized, Reverse Osmosis, Polished, etc…)

Finding a lab without a water system is as difficult as finding water on the parched desert planet of Arrakis (nerdy Frank Herbert’s Dune reference). As soon as lab planning commences, water resources should be understood and communicated. While it can be advantageous to have a large “house” water system installed, water purity and volumetric demand concerns will invariably arise.

It typically is more cost effective to keep house-water to a very basic and maintainable level (RO or ‘gross’ DI (down to 20-10 microsiemens)). Getting laboratory water any cleaner than this from a building’s water supply will be wasteful for two reasons:

  1. There will likely never be enough water.
  2. The water quality will suffer as it flows to the end of the line to point of use.

Consider the water quality that is needed at point of use and install wall mounted or small bench top water systems that can further polish water to the level needed. This ensures that only the volume of water needed is actually used, and that when used it is the quality required for the laboratory’s operational needs.

Cleaning Glassware

Like water, discussed above, all labs use glassware to some extent. Many labs clean their glass by hand, because interns and undergraduates are free, right? There are a couple of pitfalls in using this strategy. First, while their time may be free, it can be used in other, more productive endeavors. Secondly, intern A likely does not wash to the same quality as undergraduate B, or principle investigator C. Finally, hand washing wastes water.

Glassware washers put an end to these concerns, and can be made to be flexible (unlike the dishwasher at home. Under-counter washers can be retrofitted with finishing panels/facades, wheels and quick connect fittings; making them mobile and flexible. Mobility addresses space limitations while adding water saving and repeatability of the washer to multiple lab spaces that use relatively little glassware (thus maximizing the lab’s investment).

Contact a lab equipment expert with your questions

* Dependent upon energy prices in your area.

Mon, 11 Jul 2016 07:15:00 7JulCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Ducted or Ductless? That depends...]]> If you’re stuck in a place between a fume hood and a hard ceiling, consider using a filtered fume hood. Since more and more laboratories find they cannot duct out, or are choosing not to duct out in order to save on energy costs, there is a diverse range of carbon filtered fume hoods for most chemical fume hood needs.

A large misconception is that a ductless hood is the same across the board –with this being said, if you are interested in a ductless or filtered fume hood, be sure to have a list of chemicals and applications handy so a chemical assessment can be performed to see what type of enclosure is appropriate.

In my lab days, most fume hoods looked alike—a glass sash that could be raised or lowered, one switch for a light and another to turn air on and off. Today’s fume hood world features many options, including filtered hoods...

Read the entire article, Replacing Fume Hood Ducts with Filters Offers Newfound Freedom by Mike May.

Thu, 07 Jul 2016 05:00:00 5JulCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[To B2 or Not to B2? Thanks to the new C1, That is No Longer the Question...]]> Regardless of your industry, having the right tools for the job matters. That statement goes both ways, too: Of course you want equipment that allows you to perform effectively and safely, but you don't want to incur any added expenses for features or protections your work doesn't necessarily warrant. 

In other words, if you're a carpenter, you're going to need a hammer—a good, dependable hammer. You don't want to reach for the blunt end of a screwdriver in desperation or have to read an instruction manual for a complicated, expensive gadget you're too frustrated to use.

What if your hammer could do other things you needed it to do, though, and actually save you money in the long term? Well we haven't invented that—we don't sell hammers. Sorry. But we did engineer a completely new biosafety cabinet that can function in either Type A mode or Type B mode, and it's swiftly becoming the Swiss Army Knife of sorts for laboratory toolboxes around the U.S. (like this one at Creighton University).

Before we explore the Purifier® Axiom™ Class II, Type C1 Biosafety Cabinet, though, let's delve into the backstory about why this technology is indeed so novel. It starts by addressing the longtime struggle of many labs in determining what kind of cabinet—a Class II, Type A2 or Class II, Type B2—they actually required.

BSC Choice Struggles of Yore

Although the field of laboratory research is one rooted in change and new discoveries, one thing remains unchanged: Safety matters. (Read what industry expert Sean Kaufman has to say about safety in labs here).

It matters so much, in fact, that we've received many inquiries in the past from customers wanting to purchase Type II, Class B2 total exhaust cabinets with the misconception that these units were safer than their Type II, Class A2 counterparts.

That's only partly true, and it comes with a hefty application caveat. Type B2 cabinets aren't only safer when your microbiological work requires the use of volatile toxic chemicals or radionuclides—they're required.

In other words, if your application includes hazardous chemistry, you must have a hard-ducted Type B2 (or C1, as we'll get to in a moment).

It's important to note here that although they're often used interchangeably in the industry, 'hazardous chemicals' and 'hazardous chemistry' do not mean the same thing. For example, if you're working with a hazardous chemical, you don't necessarily need to opt for a Type B2 cabinet if that chemical is diluted enough to be rendered non-hazardous. Is that clear?

For many, it's understandably not—that's why a risk assessment must be performed to determine if the volume and concentration of the chemistry you're going to perform is indeed hazardous. Remember . . . safety matters.

Some risk assessments will find that the application in question warrants a Type A2 biosafety cabinet, a unit that exhausts about 30 percent of its total airflow while recirculating the remaining 70 percent within the cabinet. In contrast, airflow through a Type B2 cabinet is similar to that of a fume hood, externally exhausting 100 percent of the air pulled through the cabinet. The purpose of this design is to completely remove any toxic chemical vapors or radioactive compounds that are generated inside the cabinet.

Room air is brought into the cabinet through both an opening in the top of the cabinet and through the inlet grille. This air flows through an initial HEPA filter and then downward through the work area. All of the contaminated air is then drawn into a negatively pressured plenum and exhausted through a second HEPA filter. A dedicated exhaust system and remote blower draw all of the filtered exhaust air out of the laboratory.

At the end of the day, Type A2 cabinets and Type B2 cabinets are equally safe when used for the properly designated applications. After all, they both utilize HEPA filtration and protect against agents requiring biosafety level (BSL) 1, 2, or 3 containment. In the past, researchers who needed both Type A and Type B functionality would have been forced to purchase both types of cabinets—that is, until today.

Type C1 Biosafety Cabinet: Best of Both Worlds

As you've probably gathered by now, the Class II, Type C1 biosafety cabinet can convert from operation in Type A mode to operation in Type B mode, the first of its kind. Running the Type C1 in B-mode is cost-effective, too, as it tallies near the operating cost of a traditional Type A2 cabinet with canopy connection. It can be tied to almost any existing exhaust system with sufficient CFM reserve, so installation costs are minimal compared to traditional Type B2-only implementations.

With dual ECM blowers and our very own Constant Airflow Profile™ (CAP) technology, safety comes first on the C1. In fact, the unit maintains safety for both you and your work, even in the event of a building exhaust failure.

Thanks to the design of the Chem-Zone™—the center of the dished work surface that serves as the dedicated exhaust portion of the cabinet when in Type B mode—airflow demand is reduced by more than 50 percent (compared to traditional Type B2 cabinets).

In short, the Type C1 is changing the biosafety game, combining unparalleled versatility, flexibility and safety. Labs like yours no longer have to teeter the line between Type A and Type B or purchase multiple units to satisfy multiple needs because the Type C1 is capable of handling any application. To B2 or not to B2, then, is no longer the question.

Want to see for yourself? Watch our Axiom Introduction video or take an in-depth tour of the equipment.

Wed, 06 Jul 2016 05:00:00 5JulCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[Science Pioneers and Science City Join Forces]]> In 1956, Science Pioneers was incorporated in Kansas City as a non-profit organization to foster, develop and encourage youth in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Fast-forward to 1999 and Science City opens its doors as part of the reconstructed Union Station with a similar mission – to interest local and national youth in the sciences.

In 2002, both Science Pioneers and Science City found themselves residing in Union Station. With complementary programs and mission statements, it was only a matter of time before these two would become one. That time has come.

Starting July 1st, Union Station’s Science City and Science Pioneers will merge to complement each other’s strengths and bring STEM to a larger audience than before. This is great news for Kansas City and Labconco Corporation.

Being a part of Kansas City and the global scientific community since 1925, Labconco values our existing relationship with both Science City and Science Pioneers – we were a sponsor of the 65th Annual Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair ­– but now there will be more synergy than ever before. Since its inception, the fair has grown by leaps and bounds.

“We simply can’t imagine a better union between two brands with a common purpose and community-affirmed outcomes,” espouses George Guastello, president and CEO of Union Station Kansas City. Both non-profits sponsor the science fair and are similarly housed inside Union Station in downtown Kansas City.

LeAnn Smith, executive director of Science Pioneers, adds, “For non-profits to grow and flourish it’s essential to collaborate with like-minded organizations. By bringing together complementary programs, we create a stronger organization that’s capable of delivering even greater support for STEM learning in Kansas City.”

It’s a great union between two STEM-focused leaders in our region, where not only Science Pioneers and Science City benefit, but so do the youth of today right here in the Kansas City region.

Fri, 01 Jul 2016 05:15:00 5JulCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[The Miracles of Science Surround Us]]> A Meteorological Masterpiece

After a frenzy of meteorological research on how this masterwork of Mother Nature was produced, I called my local TV news station and was rewarded with a five-part scientific explanation for the perfect storm.

Should I really have been looking at the clouds while coaching my son’s baseball game? I frequently chide our players when they get distracted chasing fireflies in the outfield, fooling around with their hats, watching ant hills, counting airplanes, cheering for another game on an adjacent field, or any one of the 4,927 things that they are doing except for paying attention to our game on our field.

Yet there I was, mesmerized by a spectacular, distant sunset lightning storm.

As luck would have it, we were stuck with an 8 p.m. game that night. Since we were well into summer, we were blessed with the sunset behind the outfield fence during our game. And I mean we were blessed because first, we had the beauty of playing the game during the sunset hours, and second because it meant the temperature would drop from a scorching 103° F to a merely simmering 100° F by the time the game was over.

Ahhh, the little joys we look forward to here in the Midwest during June.

This particular sunset was a peculiarity for all of us, and we could not help but be awestruck. Regardless of weather, we were supposed to be paying attention to the ballgame. So I slipped behind the plate during the between-innings warmups and snapped the accompanying photo.

Notice the gorgeous color of the sunset and the striations of the light coming almost straight out from the behind the left cloud wall. We could see on our weather apps the effects of a fairly substantial thunderstorm about 75 miles west of us in Topeka, Kansas.

None of us had ever seen the sky essentially cut in half.

What my still photo doesn’t fully capture is that the left half of the sky was a giant lightning storm way off in the distance. The incredible amount of lightning was giving us quite a show. We could tell something was brewing out there, which we are accustomed to in June here in Tornado Alley.

Here is an interesting radar image of what exactly was going on at the time:

This is a long-range radar image of the wide Midwestern area two minutes before I snapped the image above. You can see the major red cell parked almost on top of Topeka.

It also gives perspective to the distance between the Storm in Topeka and our location in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, just southeast of Kansas City.

According to many Kansas news stations and weather reporting websites, several areas in-and-around Topeka, KS reported hail up to 1.25” and about 9000 people lost power during the storm that night. During our kids’ baseball game we were convinced we would get rain in our hometown, yet within two hours, that large cell had moved well south of our area. We didn’t get a single drop of the rain we thought was sure to come our way.

While the radar images are cool, I really wanted to understand what made that very distinct slice across the sky during that sunset. I tried searching around some weather websites, NOAA and others to learn more about storms and cloud formations; but I really could not find that magic bullet that could explain this one specific thing that we saw that night. Then it hit me: “Ask a meteorologist!”

I called one of the local TV stations and they put me into the voice mailbox where I was sure my message would flounder. In less than 10 minutes Jesse Hawila, one of the meteorologists from KCTV5, called me back and said, “I think I know which night you are asking about because we were all having a great time with it here in the studio as well because of how unique it was.”

He explained that essentially the visual phenomena was caused by the storm’s incredibly high cloud top (50-55,000 feet high), coupled with distinctly clear western sky behind that storm cloud, combined with the perfect angle of the setting sun - because of the time of year and the position of the sun in the sky.

The storm cloud was basically completely isolated in the sky and the setting sun had a direct path to that storm cloud, causing the storm cloud itself to actually cast a shadow, which formed that sharp line that we saw across the sky from our side. He said it was an “A+B+C+D+E situation” where all those factors had to line up perfectly, so it was very cool that we all we able to witness it.

Jesse was also kind enough to send me the following visible satellite image of the storm cloud itself during sunset that same night. He wanted to point out the completely clear skies in western Kansas, the giant storm cloud itself, and then the clear skies again across Kansas City and Missouri. Again, this is a satellite image of the clouds… not a radar image of the rain.

Simply Amazing!

Labconco has been based in Kansas City since our beginnings in 1925. This article's author, Adam Keithley, is Labconco's Marketing Manager.

Thu, 30 Jun 2016 05:00:00 5JunCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[How to Freeze Dry the 6 Most Challenging Samples]]> Lyophilization, or freeze drying, is a technique often used in university and life science laboratories. During the freeze dry process, sublimation occurs as a result of a cycle of:

  1. prefreezing,
  2. primary drying
  3. and secondary drying.

It's a technique well suited for sample preservation, restoration of water-damaged items and—of course—an ever-important vehicle for sample prep.

Sounds simple enough, right? Of course there's much more to freeze drying and we've covered that in-depth on more than one occasion.

Our focus today will be on what goes wrong, not what goes right.

Say you know how to properly care for your freeze dryer and religiously stay away from common lyophilization mistakes (like not knowing your sample's eutectic point, for example).

Why are there still some samples that remain challenging time and time again? What happens when you do everything right and your sample still makes you sweat?

Don't kick your freeze dryer. (Seriously, please don't kick it. We wouldn’t know how to explain that service call.)

Let's examine six challenging samples and discuss what you need to know as you work to lyophilize them.

Challenger #1: Tert Butyl. Before you curl your fists in anger to Tert Butyl's gummy consistency after lyophilizing, here are a few soothing words: It's not your fault. (I repeat: It's not your fault.)

While the compound looks like a perfect freeze dry candidate on paper, our experts have received many customer calls about the output having a gummy consistency—and, unfortunately, that's simply going to happen when you're working with Tert Butyl.

As you work through the lyophilization process, know that you're likely not going to make it all the way to a dry powder.

View our available Freeze Dry Systems

Challenger #2: DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide). Because DMSO has a very high boiling point, it's hard to evaporate in a standard evaporator. Freeze drying, then, should be the perfect alternative, right? Well, it is—but it will eventually attack different components of your freeze dryer.

For example, you'll need to replace the rubber and plastic pieces, as they're apt to show wear pretty quickly when working with this compound. Also, for applications using DMSO, make sure your system has a glass lid to help lessen the replacement burden.

Challenger #3: Alcohols. Alcohols (like methanol and ethanol) have a very low freezing point, so they present a temperature differential conundrum.

Ethanol, for example, freezes at -117°C. Because it's not possible to get a freeze dryer with a collector temperature of -137°C, you must dilute these substances to 10 percent or less by adding an aqueous solution. Then, you can use a -105º freeze dry system to complete your work. Note that if you're working at all with acids, opt for the system with the corrosion-resistant, PTFE collector.

Challenger #4: Salts. Just like salt alters the boiling point of water on your stovetop, it alters the freezing point of samples you're trying to lyophilize. In addition, exposure to salt over time will cause stainless steel surfaces in freeze dryers to rust.

If you're going to be working with compounds containing salt, be sure to invest in a cascade-style (-84° or-105° C) freeze dryer with PTFE-coated components to avoid costly damage.

Challenger #5: Sugars. Sugars won't change the eutectic temperature of your sample, but they could ruin your vacuum pump if they pass into the equipment and crystalize there—and, as we all know, a lyophilizer without a working vacuum pump isn't very productive in the laboratory.

You can protect your pump, however, by placing a secondary HEPA filter between the freeze dryer and the pump so that any sugar that bypasses the cold coils gets trapped before it can do any damage.

Challenger #6: Oils. If you're trying to freeze dry a substance with oil, your output will never be an entirely solid powder. The oil in the sample will sublimate first and leave behind a slicker consistency, but this isn't a deal-breaker.

As long as you're lyophilizing for sample prep and don't need your sample for long-term storage, you can get rid of most of the moisture and carry on with your work.

Learn more about available lyophilizers or accessories.

If you have an application-specific question, contact Application Specialist Jenny Sprung.

Thu, 23 Jun 2016 05:00:00 5JunCDT-6:00
<![CDATA[RXPert Double Filtered Balance Systems & USP <800>]]> Almost everyone has had a prescription filled by a pharmacy. The process of filling a prescription should be familiar and simple: receive a prescription from your doctor, drive to your preferred pharmacy then hand the prescription over to the pharmacist. After a short wait you will be on your way with medicine in hand.

  • But what happens when a patient requires a drug dosage or drug that isn’t widely manufactured by a pharmaceutical company?
  • Must a patient settle for an inappropriate dosage or delivery method?
  • What if an extra milligram here or there could mean the difference between healthy and a hive outbreak?

Patients that require specialty medications can fortunately rely on compounding pharmacies.

And there are more than a few of these sites that specialize in the custom preparation of drugs. An estimate by the IACP (International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists) found that nearly 7,500 U.S. pharmacies offer compounding services.

Although largely beneficial to patients – many receive hormone replacement therapies and chemotherapies from compounding pharmacies – these specialty sites have gotten a bad rap in the last few years. In the most notable instance, a batch of sterile injections were contaminated with bacterial meningitis at New England Compounding Center, killing 64 patients.

Browse through our USP <800> compliant Double Filtered RXPert Line.

As a result, State and Federal compounding pharmacy regulators have tightened rules for compounding pharmacies. These regulations are largely derived from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), a best-practices organization that has written numerous chapters that cover topics from storage of drugs to the proper use of water and beyond.

The new changes do more than just protect patients. Compounding pharmacy personnel also have to follow new regulations to protect themselves from exposure.

Labconco has developed a new balance enclosure, the RXPert Double Filtered Balance System, to comply with the unique, new language found in chapter <800>.

Among the new requirements is double exhaust HEPA filtration for any enclosure designed to recirculate its air back into the facility.

Based on the design of the XPert System, the Double Filtered RXPert performs well beyond USP’s double HEPA requirement by offering an industry-exclusive capability to leak-scan both HEPA filters in the unit. This assures compounders that they are working free of exposure to hazardous drugs.

The additional HEPA filtration embraces the spirit of USP <800> by providing operators with peace-of-mind and safety when handling hazardous drugs.

The pharmacy world is still dominated by major chains, but don’t be too surprised if you see an RXPert (or a variety of other Labconco equipment!) on your next visit to a compounding pharmacy.

Check out our USP <800> compliant Double Filtered RXPert Line.

Tue, 14 Jun 2016 05:00:00 5JunCDT-6:00