Specifying Low Temperature Freezers to -85˚C

Nature's low-temperature freezer

Nature's low-temperature freezer

There’s “cold” and there’s “really cold.”  Across a range of biological and medical research as well as industrial applications there are many areas where a low temperature freezer is used for long-term storage of pharmaceuticals and biological specimens, and for testing a product’s ability to perform in super-cold environments such as to -85˚C.  Laboratory freezers and industrial freezers operating at these temperatures have features not found on typical commercial or residential units.  Research personnel and purchasing agents should look for specific design and performance criteria before making a decision.

A Specification Check List

Ultra low freezers such as those offered by Tovatech are available as upright freezers and chest freezers. 

  • Because models are designed to meet temperature ranges such as from -20˚C and lower the first criterion to be established is “how low should I go?”  It is generally true that the colder the capability the more costly the unit although size (the second criterion) also applies to cost.  As to the latter make sure you have adequate space available for your new unit.

Beyond temperature and unit size there is the even-more-critical design and performance capability of the low temp freezer and the operating procedures to be followed by laboratory personnel. 

  • Look for ultra low freezers with a 16-gauge cold rolled steel exterior and a 14-gauge interior.  Interiors fabricated of galvanized steel are efficient in conducting temperatures and place less stress on the unit’s compressors.  
  • Temperature settings and temperature control are extremely critical purchasing criteria.  This can be addressed by a dual-display digital temperature control that shows the actual interior temperature against the set temperature.  Ideally they will be the same.
  • If something goes wrong an alarming system should provide an immediate alert, and it should be functional in a power outage.  Look for a battery-operated system with an audio and visual alert (and optional remote alerts) that activate if the temperature increases above the set value.  Personnel should be able to test the alarm system. 
  • Have a backup plan in place in the event of a power failure.  Most upright and chest freezers can be specified for 115-volt power requirements, so a backup generator is a good first step to maintain power to the unit. In the rare occasion of equipment failure a backup low-temperature freezer should be available.
  • Some models of upright low temp freezers have individual storage compartments.  These help maintain temperature settings because only the accessed compartment is opened to place or retrieve contents.  In such cases clearly label compartment contents to avoid unnecessary exposure.
  • Warranties and service assistance should be considered as purchasing criteria. 

As you begin your search for equipment count on the scientists at Tovatech for impartial advice on selecting the correct low temp laboratory or low temp industrial freezers that meet you specific needs.

About Rachel Kohn

So how did an MIT Ph.D. end up selling refrigerators? When I figured out that a lot more scientists buy lab refrigerators than innovative leading-edge instruments. I hope that my many years of lab experience will help you find the right equipment for your work. Before co-founding Tovatech I worked in business development and project management at Smiths Detection, Photon-X, Cardinal Health, and Hoechst Celanese. And before that I spent 12 years as an R&D chemist at Hoechst Celanese and Aventis working on advanced drug delivery systems, polymer films and membranes, optical disks, and polysaccharides. Some day, eventually, I’ll make enough money to develop an innovative technology that will change the world. Read More