Selection Tips for a -40˚C Lab Freezer

Winter temperatures in the Arctic reach -40C and lower (NOAA photo)

Winter temperatures in the Arctic reach -40C and lower (NOAA photo)

Laboratory freezers and scientific freezers play an important role in product protection and testing.  This applies to the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry and for testing mechanical components under extreme cold temperature conditions.  Lab freezers are manufactured to operate most efficiently at specific temperatures required by research and product development personnel.

Selecting the correct scientific freezer temperature depends on several factors including government, professional association and industry standards.  That’s why Tovatech offers a wide variety of low temperature freezers such as the Nor-Lake Premier -40˚C model.

Temperatures, Costs and other Lab Freezer Specification Factors  

While “freezing” suggests 0˚C (32˚F) specifications may require much lower temperatures.  Units are designed to maintain the required temperature in the most efficient manner. The Norlake Premier NSXF221 low temperature laboratory freezer, for example, is factory set to -40˚C although operators can control settings from -30˚C.  Keep in mind that the colder the capability the more costly the freezer, so be sure you are clear on what the optimum temperature should be.

While the cost of the lab freezer is important, consider too the cost of the contents and the potential loss due to improper storage.  Units such as the NSXF221 are equipped with a microprocessor temperature controller and digital LED readout that clearly displays the temperature of the contents as relayed from a sensor in a glycerin bottle.

In case of malfunction audio and visual alarms are activated on the scientific freezer and can be connected to remote locations in the building.  An optional 1” diameter sensor access port can be specified if lab personnel require other data from inside the unit.

Other Low Temp Freezer Operating Suggestions

How tight are the door seals?  Ice buildup on magnetic door gaskets can cause leakage.  This is why you should select a laboratory freezer equipped with anti-condensate door frame heater wires.  Door locks help control unauthorized access.

How important are records?  Records are very important if you are dealing with the FDA and similar agencies.  Optional temperature chart recorders and chart paper maintain consistent records, but are only part of the story.   You should have procedures in place to cope with power failures if your organization does not have an emergency generator.

Assign at least two personnel responsible for maintaining temperature records at the beginning and end of each shift and to report deviations from established storage procedures.  This is especially critical when dealing with pharmaceuticals and other life science products.

In summary low temp lab freezers such as the -40˚C Norlake NSXF221 are not residential or restaurant-grade commercial freezers.  They are designed to meet specific cold storage conditions at specific temperatures, and to signal when temperatures get out of spec.  Contact the laboratory freezer experts at Tovatech for information on selecting models and capacities that meet your specific requirements.

What experience have you had with low temperature laboratory freezers?  Have they led to instituting new procedures in your facility?

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