10 R&DMagazine April 2015 www.rdmag.com
Lab Utilities Help Promote Science
Whether it’s vacuum, water or gas, these utilities help make a more efficient lab environment.
Compared to industrial and residential construction, labs are expensive as they are highly complex in nature. The nd goal to constructing a functional lab is to provide valuable research results. At the heart of a lab is the research conducted
and, as a result, lab owners can’t compromise research efforts by
overlooking key aspects of the work-space—such as safety, comfort and
Some of the most important features to enhance the above aspects
in labs are in the utilities used in a
lab environment. From lab vacuum
to water to gas, these utilities are at
the heart of successful research and a
successful lab environment.
One of the most notable trends in lab
vacuum technology is the movement
away from central vacuum supply in new
science buildings. This is consistent with
owners’ objectives to have facilities that
are adaptable as science changes, as budgets rise and fall and programs respond.
“Central building utilities that can’t
adapt to changing needs limit the economic lifetime of the building and hamper the science, or accelerate the need
for substantial renovation investments,”
says Peter Coffey, VP of marketing,
Vacuubrand, Essex, Conn.
Another factor driving the move away
from central vacuum utilities is the movement toward multidisciplinary science
buildings, both for academic institutions
and for “problem-focused” research.
“Since the vacuum needed by the various
scientific disciplines varies greatly, and dry
labs are becoming increasingly important,
Researchers are also continuing to move away from water aspirators
and oil-sealed rotary vane pumps due to environmental impacts, main-
tenance concerns and cost of ownership. With a focus on sustainability
in lab environments, more researchers are looking for environmentally
friendly products that are reliable and can be used for a wide range of
applications. “Oil-free vacuum pumps don’t require water or oil for
normal operation, nor do they create contaminated waste that must be
properly disposed,” says Roland Anderson, laboratory products manag-
er, KNF Neuberger, Trenton, N.J.
As science evolves, so does actual lab vacuum technology. Many
enhancements have been made to this technology over the past
three years, but none is as important as control and automation
of lab vacuum processes. From pumping units that automatically
respond to demand for vacuum, to systems that can automate
evaporative processes, automation saves researchers time, protects
samples, reduces wear on pumps and reduces energy use.
“With budgets tight in both academic and industrial research, process automation in labs frees up the most precious resource in the lab—
the attention and creativity of the researcher,” says Coffey. The result:
Both greater productivity and more satisfying work for the scientist.
Another development noted by lab vacuum vendors is the development of wireless systems for monitoring and controlling vacuum
In today’s shared labs, where space is limited, the Thermo Scientific Barnstead GenPure xCAD Plus water puri-
fication system allows users to simultaneously dispense water from up to three remote dispensers mounted
on the bench or wall. Image: Thermo Fisher Scientific
Image of vacuum pump
with control accessible
from a tablet computer.