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Ultra Low Temperature Freezers: A Case Study on Energy Consumption and Safe Practices at the National Institutes of Health

Thursday, October 11, 2012 — Poster Session IV

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Natcher Conference Center, Building 45




  • L. M. Gumapas
  • M. J. Hickey
  • G.D. Simons
  • T. I. Pittas
  • T. N. Kastner
  • M. J. Seltzer


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) took the opportunity to significantly reduce the energy consumption from freezers and to improve safety and security through better management and use of -86°C Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) Freezers. Energy meters were installed on ULT Freezers at the NIH to determine how energy consumption was influenced by various operational factors. Ambient temperature, maintenance, age, capacity, and set point temperature were the factors that were examined. Based on the study, ULT freezers operated efficiently when they are cleaned and maintained regularly, operating in ambient temperatures less than 25°C, less than 10 years old, have an internal capacity greater than 23 ft3, and are operating at a set point higher than -80°C. Additionally, safety, stability and security of samples was also considered. Tracing NIH’s history to 1887, the number of legacy freezers is significant. Proper sample storage, labeling, and maintaining a proper sample inventory are practices essential to the safe operation and optimal performance of an ULT freezer. This case study will present energy and safety benefits through effective management of ULT freezers, while maintaining the integrity of samples stored in ultra low temperatures.

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