The rush to develop vaccines highlighted the need for more efficient laboratories. While we tend to focus on the newest gadgets and techniques, the most impactful advances are through the ways we find to make the main equipment, from centrifuges to autoclaves, more efficient.
In the importance of the role of heaters in improving lab efficiency. As well as how electric heaters are being used in laboratories to save energy and time. Resulting in faster, more efficient, and cost-effective lab processes.
Sterilization is an essential practice in the laboratory industry. For vaccine research, working with isolated cell lines required effective sterilization to protect the integrity of cultures. But the need for sterile equipment and work environments isn’t limited to just microbiology. All laboratories from biology to chemistry rely on sterilization.
Here are a few of the most effective sterilization methods for laboratories.
One of the most common methods, wet heat sterilization is found in just about every lab. This method, also called autoclaving, uses high-pressure steam to clean equipment and tools. Equipment is placed into the autoclave device, where it is treated and fully sterilized. Not only is this method effective but it reduces waste, allowing equipment to be safely reused instead of requiring single-use instruments.
Using pressurized steam allows the heat to be superheated and fully contact surfaces. The steam offers great heat and excellent penetration for thorough cleaning. Through the process of hydrolysis and coagulation, any proteins are killed. So there are no bugs or microbes introduced into the next use.
Steam heating via autoclaves is used for all sizes of operations. From industrial laboratories to cleaning needles at piercing and tattoo parlors. This method is quick, often allowing for full sterilization within 15 minutes.
Unlike wet heat, dry heat does not use water and steam. Instead of hydrolysis, this method kills proteins by oxidizing cells.
Dry heat sterilization, also called flaming or baking, takes more energy than wet heat. Higher temperatures are needed to achieve the same results through oxidizing cells than through hydrolysis. Electric heaters can help to reduce time to achieve higher temperatures, as well as operational costs due to their energy efficiency.
Although autoclaving is more energy-efficient than dry heat, baking is sometimes more appropriate. For instance, if the equipment to be sterilized is sensitive to water/steam, dry heat is preferable.
Infrared radiation heaters are popular for sterilization in the medical and laboratory fields. This is due to their effectiveness in separating platelets from DNA. They can also be used to neutralize viruses and bugs. This method of neutralization is much faster and more convenient for incubators, which used to achieve this by sitting out in the sun.
For the purpose of sterilization, three types of electromagnetic radiation are commonly used:
Each type offers greater penetration and effectiveness. The type of radiation must be appropriate for the target. UV rays, for instance, are the least penetrating. This makes them very safe, but also means they are more limited in the size and depth they can sterilize.
In contrast, gamma rays penetrate deeply. This makes them effective even for large-scale applications. However, they can be damaging to humans that are directly exposed.
Humidity chambers are used to simulate the conditions materials and products may face. The chamber tests the product through a range of humidity levels and temperatures. The results give an idea of how they may hold up to environmental conditions.
The devices, also known as climate chambers, are commonplace in pharmaceutical labs. Here they test the long-term viability and storage conditions of products.
To provide fast heating with low energy expenditure, humidity chambers typically use electric immersion heaters. Immersion heaters are immersed directly in the water bath or steam generator to maximize efficiency.
Radiation is not just for sterilization. It is also a common method of comfort heating. Radiant heaters designed for comfort heating use the least penetrating rays. As such, it is safe for use on and around personnel.
Electric radiant heaters can target specific areas, so you only use energy where it is needed. They can be used on their own for a single purpose, such as heating a single room. Or several heaters in sequence, such as warming up equipment across the building. This makes them a good option for keeping lab-critical equipment warm, or preparing it for use.
Like radiant heaters, convection heaters are also a good option for comfort heating and providing heat for lab-critical equipment. Choosing between convection or infrared radiant heat depends on a few key variables:
Examples of convection heaters found in labs are commonly found in hot air ovens and muffle furnaces.
Wattco custom manufactures electric heaters for medical, pharmaceutical, and industrial laboratories. Our team of engineers works with you to select the best heater type, design, configuration, materials, and wattages for your project’s specifications and budget.
Contact wattco today for laboratory heater quotes and information.