Last updated on February 15, 2022 by
Did you know that a standard ultra-low temperature freezer uses as much energy per day as an average household?
In their guide, the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy provides helpful tips and solutions so hospitals and laboratories can find ways to be energy efficient and save money on the electric bill. While ULT freezers may run up a laboratory’s bill and energy usage, they’re still increasing in popularity and demand.
That’s right. Despite the high maintenance and energy usage of most ULT storage solutions, hospitals and biomedical laboratories are still interested in utilizing them.
Today, ultra-low temperature freezers are growing steadily in popularity and are becoming a common part of every standard lab.
A Deeper Look at ULT Freezers and Storage
Ultra-low temperature freezers are exactly what they sound like. The temperature range is lower than a standard freezer, often around a setpoint of -80 degrees Celsius (or -112 degrees Fahrenheit).
Ultra-low temperature storage is essential for preserving vaccines, biological samples, and other blood derivatives. Its ultracold environment and extreme temperatures are critical to the safe research and handling of these materials.
It is no wonder why ULT freezers are fundamental in a hospital. They are quickly becoming standard lab equipment.
While ULT freezers have been around for more than 50 years, the demand and commonality of them have recently skyrocketed due to the development of the coronavirus vaccine.
Vaccines need to be stored in a ULT chest freezer properly before being disbursed to the community. They have to be created, placed in storage containers in the appropriate storage conditions, transported to storage facilities, then transported to the facility.
If a facility has an excess of vaccines that can be utilized elsewhere, the sample storage must then be transported again and placed in storage freezers.
Through every step, a vaccine must stay cold so that it stays potent. Otherwise, the vaccine may run the risk of being less effective. That is why the National Institutes of Health issued a policy regarding the use, maintenance, and repairs of ULT freezers several years ago.
What are the Benefits of Ultra-Low Temp Storage?
Ultra-low temperature freezers are an asset to pharmaceuticals, life sciences, and laboratories all over the United States. But what exactly are the benefits of ULT freezers and ultra-low temp storage? Why are more hospitals and biomedical facilities equipping their laboratories with one?
Here are just some of the reasons why ultra-low temp storage is becoming so vastly popular:
- Low Sound and Sustainability
- Greater Freezing Capacity
- Ideal Temperature for Your Samples
- A Saving Grace During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Low Sound and Sustainability
Many modern ULT freezers are manufactured with a sound reduction system that does not inhibit any access to HVAC systems. Professionals can still get complete utility out of the freezer without the added noise or distractions to their workflow.
While the energy consumption can sometimes be high if not optimized or calibrated effectively, ULT freezers still provide a great return on investment. Why? Purchasing a ULT freezer often comes with full transparency about its power consumption, service life, manufacturing quality, and recyclability! If your lab is fortunate enough to procure a high-quality ULT freezer with advanced defrost technology, it can mean great returns on investment in the long run.
Many also come equipped with state-of-the-art alert systems that notify users of compressor failures, defrosting issues, or other alarms that can help maintain the overall longevity of the machine.
Greater Freezing Capacity
You have control over the temperatures of each unit. With the thick inner doors, efficient gaskets, and faster recovery times, a ULT freezer’s freezing and storage capacity is greatly improved.
Just remember to maintain the right ambient temperature in the room that the freezer is in. Remember, the ambient temperature will often be lower than the standard room temperature we are used to.
Ideal Temperature For Your Samples
These days, a ULT freezer comes with advanced temperature control and can be customized to your specific needs. This could mean multiple chambers that each reach their own specified temperature.
You can even customize the control system to ensure the appropriate temperature at all times. A microprocessor is often used to help monitor the temperature. This is long-term storage, so ensuring complete control of temperature and uniformity is essential.
A Saving Grace During The COVID-19 Pandemic
As the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine rolled out, there was a problem. Many pharmaceutical companies were relying on shipping containers with dry ice to transport the vaccines and soon, there was a shortage of dry ice.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a response to the National Governors Association regarding the handling of the vaccine. Funding for ultra-low temperature freezers has not been available. However, the Department was considering funding for some of the larger cities.
Ultra-low storage solutions are critical in the development and preservation of effective vaccines. It is no doubt that they have played an integral role in the safe production and roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
How Are ULT Freezers Used and How Common Are They?
How common are ULT storage facilities?
We’ve already seen the benefits and understand how they are useful for proper vaccine storage and refrigeration. Proper storage is vital for pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies rely on properly stored plasma to create viable vaccines; they maintain potency up until the time of administration. Each type of vaccine has different needs, so the freezers must meet the demand. Additionally, ULT freezers help researchers continue to do the diligent work of researching and developing other life-saving medicines.
But how else might they be used?
Laboratories, blood banks, and healthcare facilities leverage ultra-low temperature freezers as part of their everyday operations.
Ultra-low temp storage is often used to preserve:
- Stem cells
- Flammable chemicals
- Bone marrow
- Animal DNA
Energy Star has issued a laboratory-grade guideline for all cold storage and lab freezers used in laboratory settings. These guidelines coincide with CDC requirements in the handling of biological samples. Blood, biological samples, and plasma must be frozen in storage and thawed when it’s time to use it. Hospitals leverage the properly-stored blood to perform life-saving transfusions.
They’re also sometimes used in the agriculture and/or restaurant industries to preserve and transport frozen foods such as fish, ice cream, and steaks.
Does Your Lab Need an Ultra-low Temp Freezer?
The use of ultra-low temperature freezers is common in many biomedical and hospital settings. We predict that the demand for them will grow, even after the coronavirus pandemic has ended.
While buying these ULT freezers from a distributor can be expensive and sometimes complicated, it’s not impossible. Excedr can help buyers weed through all the purchase decisions that surround a ULT freezer.
We’ll support you in finding the perfect unit for your lab whether you need an undercounter, chest, or upright freezer. We can also help you when it comes to establishing a warranty.