The Future of Sharing
The culture of cold storage ownership may be coming to an end. CU Boulder has implemented a successful ULT freezer sharing program, UC San Francisco is looking to move many of its samples to an off-site biorepository, and many pharmaceutical and biotech companies have begun to employ both strategies, asking their scientists to share local freezer space for frequently-used samples and to use biorepositories for samples that need to be accessed less frequently.
CU Boulder's website details their ULT freezer sharing program, where researchers can rent freezer space for as little as 25 cents/month. Christina Greever, CU Boulder's Green Labs Program Assistant and Outreach Coordinator, says of the program, "Though the Shared ULT Freezer Program takes some time and effort to administer, we [CU Green Labs] feel that the benefits to the campus far outweigh the costs. The program is tackling culture change by encouraging labs to share their most precious equipment".
Sharing freezer space not only helps reduce energy consumption, but it also reduces waste as well. By not purchasing new equipment, raw materials are not used to create something new, all of the resources that would have been used to run the equipment are not expended, the valuable space that the equipment would have occupied remains open for some other use, and the lab maximizes its economic resources. In addition, the equipment that is being shared is being used to its fullest potential.
Sharing cold storage space should not be an innovative best practice. This Freezer Challenge, help make this a standard practice by opening up your (freezer, refrigerator) door to a colleague.
The Most Energy-Efficient Freezer is... A Chest Freezer?!
That's right. The most energy-efficient type of freezer is a chest freezer. Why is that?
There are two main reasons why chest freezers are more efficient:
1. When the door is opened on a chest freezer, all the cold air stays at the bottom of the chest and does not escape (because hot air rises). With upright freezers, cold air is more likely to escape from the bottom during door openings. This means that chest freezers that are used frequently stay colder with less effort from the compressor.
2. Chest freezers are often made out of plastic material and not stainless steel. Stainless steel conducts heat and is a less effective insulator. This is why chest freezers will often consume less than half of the energy of an upright freezer even if neither is being opened.
Does this mean you should switch to a chest freezer? Not necessarily. There are many good reasons why upright freezers are so popular, ergonomics being one of them. But it does mean that if you have a chest freezer - even if it's a really old chest freezer - it's likely using very little energy compared to a new upright model. If it still works, and you're still using it, hang onto it and show it some love for quietly doing its job as efficiently as possible [it's Valentine's Day, we couldn't resist ;)].