Biomedical freezers and refrigerators are designed to keep blood, cell cultures, and other biomedical samples cool. More than this, they’re built to control multiple environmental domains, including the dryness and sterility levels inside the sealed chamber. In order to accomplish these demanding tasks, state-of-the-art cooling components are incorporated into each unit’s build. That’s a broad strokes description of a complex process, but where are the details? What gifts these clinically rated coolers with their sample-preserving credentials?
The Reliability Factor
Scores of marketable domestic and commercial appliances lower their interior temperatures with great efficiency, but that’s not enough in a clinical setting. The chilled units in a hospital or doctor’s office preserve blood samples, cell cultures, and many other organic specimens. They do so by uniformly cooling these samples. Then, once the samples are properly stored, this temperature setting is precisely maintained. A digitally accurate thermostat takes on this role, but there are also internal monitoring circuits and real-time digital loggers to ensure the environment is reliably maintained.
In biomedical storage facilities, cryogenics form the backbone of a new breed of refrigerants, with hydrocarbon-based coolants providing a finitely controllable cooling environment. Blood plasma is stored in clinical freezers, in this manner, as are vaccines and other pharmacological supplies. Meanwhile, the thermodynamic properties of the hydrocarbon medium add potent storage power to laboratory refrigerators. The accessible profile employed here uses glass doors and shelves, but the utilitarian build never undermines the unit’s core capabilities when the cryogenic cooler is flowing.
A standard cooler, whether a refrigerator or a freezer, sends the temperature plummeting while other atmospheric attributes escape management. Ice crystals form in standard freezers, for instance. Cellular samples would be destroyed by this crystallization effect, so advanced humidity controls are required. Airborne moisture and surface frost crystals are eliminated by removing condensation from the lab-oriented cooling equation. This degree of environmental control also attends to contamination control. Sterile conditions are kept satisfactorily high by employing easy-wipe stainless steel surfaces and bacteria-resistant coatings.
The insides of biomedical freezers and refrigerators mirror their workplaces. If a laboratory is run under a series of clinical guidelines, then the cooling unit will adopt the same layout. Digital innards, advanced refrigerants, and real-time monitors accommodate this design philosophy. The resulting storage enclosure is then classed as a stasis device, an appliance that suspends cellular activity by keeping the interior at a user-desired setting, one that won’t vary by a single thermal degree or drop of condensed moisture.
We’ve touched briefly upon gaskets when discussing walk-in freezers, but now it’s time to properly study this system necessity. Join us as we hover a critical eye over sealing technology as it relates to walk-ins, the subzero realms that can’t preserve their arctic interiors without a leak deterring mechanism. The necessity of proper gasketing for the maintenance of walk-in freezers begins here and now with a visual inspection.
Inspecting Gaskets for Damage
Pliable extrusion act as an interface between the door, its frame, and the frosty space beyond. As such, it’s classed as a mechanically active product. Hinged doors close tightly and compress the gasket. Sliding doors brush abrasively past the seal while sliding home. The inner environment is protected, obviously, but time and repetitive action work against the hardened rubber to cause wear. Inspect the gasket for tears and general wear. A long and ragged tear can fold back upon itself and create a sliver of space, a leakage path. Energy escapes through the tear and the newly widened pathway. General wear is harder to spot. The losses are proportionally smaller, but they will accumulate over time, so check and recheck the seal.
Establish High Sealing Standards
Polymer design technology tends to promote materials that can withstand high temperatures, but those same designs also accommodate lower temperature extremes. An optimally manufactured walk-in freezer gasket takes this principle and uses it to produce pliable rubbers that will compress but not crack when the thermostat calls for a deep frost. Weigh the low-temperature performance rating of extruded PVC, ABS, and other relevant polymer families before selecting the ideal candidate, one that will exhibit its full range of mechanical capabilities over a selected coldness spread.
Preventative Maintenance Turns the Corner
As extrusion engineering refines the production of seals, new problems rear their ugly heads. The specially tailored rubber remains mechanically intact when other tough plastics become brittle, but what about that cleverly extruded profile? It’s the perfect sheltered spot for bacteria to prosper, so turn the edge over and clean it thoroughly. Extruded gasketing products compress more efficiently and therefore create a better seal, but they also need to be regularly wiped down with an antibiotic agent.
Old style seals were built of fallible rubber pads. The evolution of the walk-in freezer has seen this inefficient solution fall away as newly extruded gaskets create next generation sealing solutions. Still, as advanced as these materials undoubtedly are, they still require a preventative maintenance check, a timely inspection that ascertains mechanical and material integrity.
C&M Coolrooms can create a custom solution for your specific needs. Talk to one of team members today.