Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Selecting the Water Purification System That Best Fits Your Lab

laboratory water purification
Water is utilized in many tasks and operations throughout laboratory and research settings. The extent of processing or purification required to convert a potable water source to a purity sufficient for selected lab processes varies by application. Combining knowledge of the water purity requirements with consumption demand will bring you closer to identifying a water purification plan that will efficiently serve all the needs of the laboratory or facility.

Selecting a purification system which will deliver water of the correct quality and needed quantity is necessary for efficient laboratory operation. Surveying and capturing current consumption information, then projecting any future expansion, can serve as an input for determining the purified water production rate and daily volume requirements. Some types of purified water are best produced on demand, while others can be effectively collected and stored to accommodate high volume draw downs. Knowing whether the facility will need a large or more modestly sized unit will certainly contribute to a wise use of financial resources when procuring a system. There is, however, more to successful implementation than proper sizing.

The source water at each facility, usually from the municipal drinking water system, is comprised of many constituents, and can vary enough to impact the requirements for a properly configured system. Installing a water purification system with components selected, combined, and sized to purify the particular source water at your facility can deliver benefits over the life of the unit by reducing expenditures on consumables and maximizing system up-time.

The start of the process should include a detailed analysis of the source water. Water purification is a subtractive process, relying on the system's ability to remove various constituents of the source water. That task is best accomplished with thorough knowledge of the level and extent of the constituents.

What we commonly refer to as "water", of course, is far from pure by laboratory standards. Elga, a global manufacturer of water purification equipment and systems for laboratory point of use and centralized distribution, developed an illustrative infographic depicting aspects of laboratory grade water. It serves as a useful refresher for the experienced technician and an educational tool for the novice. The infographic is provided below, with all the credit going to Elga for its production.

Efficient and reliable production of lab grade water presents a number of challenges. Share your requirements with lab water experts, combining your own experience and knowledge with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

infographic about laboratory water purification

Saturday, March 24, 2018

CO2 Incubators With Integral Cooling and Extended Range

CO2 incubators with integral cooling system for cell culture
Extended temperature range CO2 incubators.
Image courtesy Esco
Numerous cell culture studies require temperatures that cannot be reliably maintained with heated-only incubators. Esco has a solution in their CelCulture® CO2 Incubators with an integrated cooling system that enables operation at temperatures as much as twelve degrees Celsius below the surrounding ambient.

A Peltier cooling system, such as that incorporated in the Esco CelCulture® CO2 Incubators, is an electronic system. It does not have a mechanical compressor, but utilizes a Peltier junction and heat exchanger to move heat from the interior of the chamber to the surrounding air. The method is also referred to as thermoelectric cooling and provides reliable operation with little to maintenance required.

In addition to the extended low range operating temperature, CelCulture® CO2 Incubators with an integrated coling system can maintain temperatures up to 60°C above ambient. Contamination control is provided by a 90°C validated moist heat decontamination cycle, ULPA filter, anti-microbial surface coating and a 0.2 micron in-line filter for the gas supply.

Learn more about CelCulture® CO2 Incubators and their suitability for many applications. Share your cell culture environmental requirements with laboratory equipment experts. Leverage your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Atlantic Technology Group at ISPE-CaSA 2018

Atlantic Technology Group exhibit display at ISPE CASA 2018
Atlantic Technology Group exhibiting at ISPE CaSA 2018
Atlantic Technology Group attended, supported and exhibited at the 25th Annual ISPE-CaSA Life Sciences and Technology Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center on March 13, 2018. The conference provided everyone with great opportunities to network, socialize, learn, and discuss application and processing challenges with the life science industry. Many stopped by ATG's multi-space display to inquire about products and look for solutions. On display were products from several manufacturers represented by ATG in the mid-Atlantic area.

  • Miele - Large Chamber and Undercounter Laboratory Glassware Washers, Parts Washers, Critical Laundry Washers and Dryers, Specialty Cleaning and Neutralization Agents
  • BMT USA - Laboratory Sterilizers, Bulk Sterilizers, Custom Sterilizers, cGMP Terminal Sterilizers including Vacuum, Steam-Air Mixture, and Water Spray; Clean Steam Generators, Pure Steam Generators
  • Elga - Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 Water Systems; RO, DI, EDI, UV, and Ultrafiltration technologies in compact lab systems to large high-flow whole building loop systems.
  • Esco - Biological Safety Cabinets, Horizontal Laminar Flow Clean Benches, Vertical Laminar Flow Clean Benches, Animal Containment Work Stations, PCR Cabinets, Powder Weighing Balance Enclosures, Compounding Pharmacy Isolators, Ductless Fume Hoods, Ducted Fume Hoods, CO2 Incubators
  • Percival Scientific - Plant Growth and Stability Chambers, Walk-in Controlled Environment Rooms
Thanks go out to all attendees and other participants for a successful conference from the solution providers at Atlantic Technology Group. We look forward to next year's conference and any opportunity to assist a customer in solving a problem, meeting a challenge.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Animal Cage Washer Installation Considerations

laboratory animal cage and rack washer
Laboratory animal cage washing equipment presents
a number of challenges for successful installation.
Image courtesy Girton Mfg.
Laboratory animal cage and rack washers are major equipment items in the facilities where they are installed. A successful installation that enables the washer to provide rated performance for a long service life requires consideration of a host of items.

Size and Weight - These machines are large, by any measure. They are very heavy and often require special equipment and trained riggers to get them into place. Moving the washer across existing floor surfaces, because of the weight of the machine, can cause damage if not done properly. It is also necessary to plan a route from the point of unloading to the point of installation. Clear access for machine sections and any required transporting gear is needed. It may be necessary, and is often possible, to have a machine fabricated in sections that make transport through the building easier.

Material - Washing machines are fabricated of stainless steel, making them potential destroyers of almost any finished surface in a building along the transport path. It may be prudent to install protective coverings over finished surfaces during transport of the equipment from unloading area to installation space.

Utility Requirements - Laboratory animal cage washers are intended to disinfect the wash load, with carefully designed processing protocols to assure consistent levels of quality. This requires the attainment of minimum wash and rinse temperatures, along with the normal operation of every component of the machine. There are pumps, motors, air driven components, valves and a whole range of other components. Utility requirements for steam, water, electricity, compressed air, drain and possibly other services must be carefully coordinated with services available in the facility. The recommended capacity and other characteristics for each service will be clearly stated on approval documents and should be adhered to, without compromise.

Service Access - Cage and rack washers are heavy duty equipment with many mechanical parts. Service and maintenance is required on a regular basis to keep the washer in good operating order. Make sure the installation space is not too tight. Allow access for a service technician to work safely and effectively. The manufacturer, as well as the facilities manager, can provide guidance on minimum service access clearances.

Structural Requirements - There are several installation schemes for cage and rack washers. One involves recessing the washer in the floor to provide a level loading and unloading path. A pass-thru washer will require a barrier wall to separate the load and unload areas. The weight of the machine must be accommodated by the building structure at the installation site. Dimensions for a recessed installation area, or pit, need to be coordinated closely between machine manufacturer and construction trades.

Much of what is outlined here is applicable to cabinet type and tunnel washers, too. Share your plans with a washing equipment specialist for assistance in attaining a successful outcome.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Modular Barrier Walls

modular barrier wall in bioprocessing sterilization facility
Modular barrier walls installed in a bioprocessing facility.
Image courtesy Avant Garde Scientific
Modular walls, specially designed to provide positive sealing between surrounding structures and equipment, can provide an effective isolation barrier between processing areas with differing classifications. Laboratory animal care and bioprocessing operations are but two examples of many potential applications for modular walls.

A common application that illustrates the function of modular isolating walls is an animal cage washing facility. The modular wall forms a sealed barrier, isolating the entry side of washing equipment from the discharge side. The entry side is commonly called the dirty side, since items entering that area are destined to be cleaned. The exit side is known as the clean side. It is good practice to not only install a physical barrier between the two sides, but also to establish procedures to assure that personnel, carts, or other equipment does not transit from dirty to clean side without first being properly cleaned or decontaminated.

For an effective installation, the walls and any washing, sterilizing, or other processing equipment must be coordinated and mated with the wall system to provide an impenetrable seal. The proper sealing disallows passage of fluids, even air and vapor, from the dirty side to the clean side. The role of the barrier wall is to fill in all the gaps between the machinery and the building features, providing the positive seal and barrier that is needed.

The type of service and operation anticipated for the areas where barrier walls will be installed determines the requirements for materials of construction. Gaskets, fasteners and surface materials need to withstand repeated exposure to cleaning and sanitizing agents, steam, waste materials or dirt from any entering materials. Wall surfaces and supporting structure should be of a material that can withstand potential impact of heavy wheeled carts or other potentially damaging items.

Modular barrier walls can often be easily modified to accommodate the addition of new penetrations through the wall by equipment or piping. Share your potential challenges with product specialists, and leverage your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Good Practice Reminders for Biological Safety Cabinets

Biological safety cabinets are utilized throughout the life sciences to provide a suitable workstation for technicians handling a range of potentially pathogenic agents. They also protect the work area from contamination by air from the surrounding area in the lab. There are some basic techniques and practices that should be followed in the placement, installation and use of biological safety cabinets. The video from Esco, a prominent global manufacturer of biological safety cabinets, provides a quick synopsis of the basic and essential guidelines for biological safety cabinet installation and use.

Share any concerns, questions, or challenges you may have with your current or planned life science lab equipment with experienced lab equipment specialists. Leverage your own knowledge and experience with their expertise to develop effective solutions.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Humidification Methods for Environmental Chambers

interior of biological environmental chamber with shelves and lighting
Environmental chambers for insect and plant research
are common applications requiring humidity control.\
Image courtesy Percival Scientific
Many environmental chambers utilized in research or production applications have a requirement to maintain a specified moisture level in the controlled space. Most often, the moisture level is specified as relative humidity. Some moisture levels may require the removal of moisture from the space, but the focus of this article is those instances where moisture must be added to the air in order to maintain the setpoint.

In designing a humidified environmental chamber, or specifying one for your own application, the challenge is to add moisture to the air in a fashion that does not result in detrimental effects on the contained materials or work. Additionally, the humidification system operation must work in concert with, not adversely to, other elements of the system that are tasked with maintaining other environmental conditions, such as temperature. With some awareness of the various methods available for humidification and their potential impact on your work and your budget, you will be better positioned to make an informed selection and achieve your desired outcome.

Several humidification methods are widely available for commercial use, all of which result in the same thing; adding water vapor to the air in the controlled space.

  • Steam introduction directly into the space: This direct addition of water vapor using low pressure steam should only be used when the sourced steam is positively known to be suitable for introduction into an occupied space. Any treatment chemicals used for efficient boiler and steam system operation could possibly travel with the steam into the controlled space. If the steam is clean, the main concerns are potential heating of the air by the sensible heat of the steam and the reliability of the steam source. An advantage of this method is that it is very rapid in response to a control signal. The hardware to regulate and control the steam injection can be costly, and present a challenge to some service techs.
  • Passive evaporating of water using the chamber air: Water will evaporate into air at differing rates under differing conditions. Directing a flow of air from the space over a water surface or falling stream of water will result in some degree of evaporation, with a corresponding increase in relative humidity. These systems come in many configurations designed to fulfill a range of requirements and available installation space, some with heating of the water to increase the evaporation rate. They are inexpensive and slow to respond. A major issue for some applications is the tendency for the water sitting in the evaporating pan to harbor biological contaminants. Frequent cleaning is a characteristic maintenance item for these systems. Cleaning reduces contamination levels and also removes the accumulated mineral deposits and other debris left behind by the evaporating water. This method of moisture addition will result in a small amount chamber air cooling.
  • Evaporating water using electric heat - This humidifier is similar to the passive evaporating method just described, but with the addition of a controlled heating system that can increase the evaporation rate. Consisting essentially of electric heaters immersed in water contained in a comparatively compact unit, these humidifiers can be selected to deliver very large amounts of vapor from a small package. The electric heat is the primary driver of evaporation. Heat applied to the water can be regulated in very fine increments to provide accurate humidity control, with little excursion from the setpoint. It is not uncommon for these units to boil the water contained in the unit, so one concern is the amount of sensible heat that is delivered with the water vapor and its potential impact on room temperature. Cost is moderate. Maintenance levels are low, but a treated water supply is recommended to minimize scale formation. Biological contamination is of little concern with these units due to the temperature at which they operate. Several configurations of this type of humidifier allow for a broad choice of installation options.
  • Evaporating water using steam - With essentially the same operation as described above for the electrically heated unit, a steam heated humidifier utilizes steam as the heat source. Precise control of a steam supply is generally more difficult and expensive than a comparable capacity electric heating system. These systems are generally available as larger capacity units.
  • Water dispersion devices - Several technologies are utilized to increase the surface area of a water supply and disperse it into the controlled space where it is evaporated by the air. Simple and inexpensive centrifugal atomizers create fog of tiny water droplets that evaporate as they contact the chamber air. Other devices employ compressed air and specialized spray nozzles to create very small water droplets that produce a similar result. Ultrasonic transducers aer also employed to atomize water into a fine mist. Centrifugal atomizers are probably the least expensive option, but may not provide the level of control accuracy needed, since they are not well suited to rapid on/off cycling. Ultrasonic transducers and spray nozzles can be sized or configured to provide better levels of output modulation, but come with a higher cost. Maintenance requirements for water dispersion devices should be considered. Another consideration for this type of humidification is water supply quality. Liquid water is dispersed in the air, then evaporated. Anything contained within the water droplet that is not water will be liberated in the controlled space. Over time, particulates and once dissolved minerals can accumulate on environmental chamber surfaces and require cleaning and removal.
There are many facets of humidification to consider for an environmental chamber or room. The less expensive first cost option may not be the best overall selection. Share your requirements with an environmental chamber specialist and leverage your own knowledge and experience with their application expertise to develop an effective solution.