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Laboratory worker with blue thermal gloves, a white lab coat and blue apron takes a clear sample tube out of a freezer box
Ultra-low temperature freezer storage is an essential asset in the lab, but these freezers can generate large financial and environmental costs.

Reduce Costs and Environmental Impact With New Lab Equipment

New ultra-low temperature freezer options can help you meet your environmental sustainability goals and benefit the budget 

PHC Corporation of North America
Published:Sep 15, 2023
|5 min read
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Joe LaPorte is the Chief Innovation Officer at PHC Corporation of North America. LaPorte has over 30 years of international experience in the field of cold chain management and ultra-low refrigeration in both the engineering and development side. He has served on the Energy Star stakeholder committee for Lab Grade Products and currently serves as a voting member on the NSF committee that defined the American National Standard for vaccine storage.

Financial goals are often at the forefront of consideration for industrial and academic labs, and in the modern era there is a new goal to consider: sustainability. Every industry is impacted by the need for environmental impact awareness and reasonable limitation of waste and emissions. Mandatory environmental goals hold companies accountable for their environmental footprint, including research and diagnostic laboratories. 

These growing requirements mean that pharmaceutical and academic labs must seek new ways to keep their practices environmentally sustainable on a budget. Whether this is in the face of novel pharmaceutical discovery amid tighter budgetary constraints than before, or as an academic laboratory trying to attract new team members, it can be difficult to satisfy budgetary and environmental constraints simultaneously. The good news is that there are some excellent ways to plan for a future in which both needs are met, while empowering and driving your laboratory work to new heights. 

New equipment saves you money when it matters

With a combination of high inflation, increased demand, and tighter budgets, it can be hard to justify new equipment purchases. But reliable, environmentally conscious equipment for your laboratory space can drive better results and address environmental sustainability goals. Even though the freezer in the lab still works, does it run efficiently? What is the electricity pull for the freezer, and is it in line with the environmental targets of your organization? Is it using costly or outdated refrigerants that may cause potential environmental damage?

          Silver freezer door shown opening 45 degrees.
The EZlatch™ handle on PHCbi ultra-low temperature freezers provides simplified, one-handed operation that maintains the integrity of the door seal. It is engineered to accommodate frequent door openings and control frost associated with extreme temperature differentials in high humidity environments.

The design of laboratory freezers is always improving. New designs address previous concerns such as heat emission. Traditionally, ultra-low temperature freezers have emitted a very high amount of heat as their motors run to maintain their low temperatures. Newer models can reduce your room cooling costs in addition to motor burnout that can be a problem in older models. Frost buildup has also been a concern for ultra-low temperature freezers. Companies such as PHCNA offer low-frost freezers that can reduce buildup from the repeated opening and closing of the freezer door that frequently occurs during laboratory work. Their cryogenic freezers also run without requiring liquid nitrogen, eliminating the additional cost of distillation and transportation. In all of these ways, new equipment can reduce the lab’s running costs and their environmental impact.

Opentrons, a laboratory group developing automation solutions for labs, experienced the many benefits of updating laboratory equipment firsthand. After replacing their outdated freezers with new PHCbi brand models, they found the increased reliability noticeably reduced repair costs. PHCbi brand ultra-low temperature freezers eliminate the likelihood of “freezer lock out”, which occurs when an ultra-low temperature freezer is closed, vacuum sealing the door for a period of time after closing. Opentrons’ laboratory manager said “PHCbi models save us money in the long run. The upfront investment may be a bit more than other products, but there are infrequent, if any, repairs needed.”

Smart equipment can negate the environmental costs of running a lab

Technology and laboratory methods are always improving, and many of these improvements have drastic effects on environmental and financial budgets. Some cryogenic storage options offered by PHCNA do not require liquid nitrogen to function, reducing cross-contamination and improving safety for lab staff while also eliminating the need for environmentally conscious disposal of hazardous materials. However, laboratories can opt to have liquid nitrogen available as a backup option, should this be required. 

The PHCbi brand VIP ® ECO SMART series ultra-low temperature freezer was awarded the 2023 ISBER Outstanding New Product Award. 

The PHCbi brand VIP ® ECO SMART series ultra-low temperature freezer was recently awarded the 2023 ISBER Outstanding New Product Award for its many beneficial attributes including a 30% reduction in power consumption compared to other models. PHCNA also offers a patented VIP series that provides slower warmup during power outages, further saving energy expenditure. 

Keeping all lab members accountable can reduce environmental impact and running costs

 Any laboratory staff in industry or academic labs could accidentally leave freezer doors open as they search for materials or hurry to the next stage of their experiment. But how can this problem be sufficiently addressed to save the pocketbook and prevent energy loss?

The PHCbi brand VIP ® ECO SMART series ultra-low temperature freezers leverage several security features such as facial recognition and keypad entry. These features can track exactly who has been using the freezer and when, and how long someone has been in the freezer with the door open. This can help the group identify who is behind the problem and why such problems may be occurring. If many members of the lab appear to be leaving the freezer door open for an extended period of time, perhaps organization within the freezer needs to be addressed so items can be more easily located. This problem may also be occurring if new staff are not adequately learning how the space is organized. In short, new equipment can also help you track where energy efficiency and money may be lost by seeing when and how the freezers in the lab are being used and by who. 

“At PHC Corporation of North America, we are proud to offer laboratory equipment that reduces total cost of ownership and environmental impact without sacrificing quality or performance. There is a misconception that low energy usage results in slower temperature recovery following door openings—that is simply not the case with PHCbi brand products. When we say we are committed to protecting your research and the environment, we mean it”. - Joe LaPorte

As a PHCbi client based in Japan, Mr. Kobayashi, a supervisor at NX Wanbishi Archives Co., Ltd. explains, “cells and samples are also irreplaceable information that will become something of great significance.” Kobayashi and his colleagues chose PHCbi brand equipment because they were looking for models that were reliable as well as saving time, effort, and space. The samples stored in any ultra-low temperature freezer are valuable, and your equipment needs to provide a secure and reliable means of storage for these materials. 

Thinking about your equipment sooner than later can pay off

The equipment in any laboratory is often a fixture that is taken for granted. But these fixtures hold valuable cell and reagent samples that must be properly stored. In addition, the environmental and financial cost of running freezers required for wet lab work is high. These costs can be mitigated by improvements in new equipment and upgrading to more efficient and better designed models.