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General equipment makes up a lab’s foundation. Without these crucial tools, few experiments could be performed, because nearly every research project depends on one or more of such technologies. As fundamental elements of research, general lab equipment must also be efficient. “Energy efficiency in laboratory equipment is extremely important,” says John Dilliott, energy manager at the University of California, San Diego. “It’s a major, yet virtually untapped area.” He mentions that My Green Lab, a California-based nonprofit, published a 2015 report estimating that there are more than 1.2 billion square feet of laboratory space in the United States. “These spaces are three to five times more energy intensive than office areas due to energy-intensive equipment, around-the-clock operations, 100 percent outside-air requirements, and high airflow rates,” Dilliott says. “Not only does laboratory equipment consume a substantial amount of energy, but anyone who has ever been in a lab knows that the heat generated by lab equipment can lead to overcompensation by heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, resulting in an additional increase in energy consumption.”

By saving energy, it takes less capital to run a piece of equipment, and some of the most basic equipment consumes a lot of electricity. According to the website of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) in Arlington, Virginia: “The energy used by [plug-in] equipment (e.g., freezers, autoclaves, centrifuges) constitutes from 10 to as much as 50 percent of the total energy use in a laboratory (not including associated cooling energy use).” I2SL’s web page adds, “Many scientists, laboratory managers, and laboratory design consultants are beginning to use energy efficiency as a selection criterion for laboratory equipment, such as laboratory oven, and some manufacturers are starting to advertise the ‘green features’ of their products.” In an effort to start a central database of energy-efficiency information, I2SL created the Energy-Efficient Laboratory Equipment Wiki (http://scim.ag/EELEWiki).

An incubator comprises a transparent chamber and the equipment that regulates its temperature, humidity, and ventilation. For years, the principle uses for the controlled environment provided by incubators included hatching poultry eggs and caring for premature or sick infants, but a new and important application has recently emerged, namely, the cultivation and manipulation of microorganisms for medical treatment and research. This article will focus on laboratory (medical) incubators.

A laboratory magnetic stirrer is a device widely used in laboratories and consists of a rotating magnet or a stationary electromagnet that creates a rotating magnetic field. This device is used to make a stir bar, immerse in a liquid, quickly spin, or stirring or mixing a solution, for example.

Laboratory shakers are a key piece of equipment in any biological laboratory. Their versatility enables scientists to easily culture, monitor and scale up a range of experiments including biofuel research and microbiological cultures. When buying a new biological shaker, it’s important to consider the experiments and applications you want to use it for and the people using it. The following guide highlights seven key matters to consider when choosing the right shaker for your laboratory.

1) Orbit size

The diameter of the orbit of your shaker is an important factor when considering different shakers; different orbit sizes suit different culturing techniques and applications.

Aeration and circulation of the growth medium in your experiment is directly affected by the orbit size, so maximise your culturing efficiency by choosing the best orbit size for your application.

Most shakers are available in a 2.5cm and 5.1cm orbit. In general, a 2.5 cm orbit is a standard option for most applications, but higher volume experiments e.g. >2 litres, or shear sensitive cells may benefit from a larger diameter orbit.

2) Shaking

Oxygenation of the cultures also depends on the speed of the agitation. By increasing the agitation speed, the surface area of the liquid increases by washing against the side of the flask, enabling better aeration of the culture if done at an optimal speed.

3) Temperature control

Biological culturing is a precise and temperamental process; sudden changes in temperature can massively affect your culture and so incorporating good temperature control is an important factor to consider in instrument selection.

Reproducibility and consistency are crucial when culturing, so it’s also important to consider the uniformity of any heating/cooling across the whole of your shaker.

A laboratory muffle furnace is a critical component for high-temperature laboratory heating, enabling samples to be heat-treated at temperatures exceeding 1000°C (1832°F) with low risk of cross-contamination.

Rotary evaporator packages have been around for quite some time now, having been developed over 50 years ago to deal with problems faced with standard chemical distillation devices. Those issues included annihilation of the substances being distilled and slow boiling. Rotary evaporators prevent such problems through the spinning motion of the vessel, which speeds distillation by increasing the surface area of the liquid. This type of evaporator also provides a gentler, higher quality distillation process than standard procedures, according to a white paper from IKA. All basic rotary evaporators are made up of a vacuum source, collection flask, rotating flask, temperature bath and condenser. While oil may be used for the bath in order to reach temperatures of 180 C, water is the most commonly used substance. If you’re looking for a rotary evaporator, it’s important to think about whether or not you need automated options and what cooling option is best for you. Vacuum control is also crucial as vacuum that is achieved too quickly can cause foaming and bumping. As always, consulting your vendor can help you make the right choice of rotary evaporator for your lab.

The growth of Life science products has created geographic concentrations of interconnected life sciences companies and institutions, or “clusters,” forming in key global locations, including in the U.S. and the UK. The forming of clusters has been driven by a variety of factors, including a broad recognition that proximity between market participants can drive overall productivity. While it may seem paradoxical for a company to locate near its competitor, a deeper examination reveals that clustering creates synergies for all participants who can benefit from communal resources, regional trade, lobby and support groups, shared infrastructure and logistics channels, and a common regulatory and legal framework (and, in some instances, local tax incentives). 

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