Not Too Empty, Not Too Full...
Did you know that laboratory freezers with too much empty space run inefficiently because they have to work harder to maintain their set point? There’s definitely a sweet spot when it comes to cold storage; make sure your units are not too empty, and not too full! According to Lab Manager, freezers that are too bare have less thermal mass and, if they are upright freezers, may lose all their cold air rapidly with a single door opening. If you have a freezer with excessive empty space, you can fill that space with gel packs, jugs of water, or even empty EPS coolers to help the unit retain its thermal mass during door openings. Just be sure not to load up your freezer with too many containers of water all at once! Freeze a few at a time to fill any empty space.
If you have cold storage units with a lot of empty space, consider whether you could consolidate multiple refrigerators or freezers. If you could consolidate and free up an entire cold storage unit, your lab could then unplug it, which could save as much energy as a home. If the unplugged unit isn’t needed in the long run, you could even free up valuable floor space in your lab. Just think what you could do with that extra space!
Haven't received your Freezer Challenge score sheet yet? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request it! Score sheets are sent out automatically, but sometimes they find their way into spam folders, and sometimes they can't seem to find their way past firewalls, so don't hesitate to contact us if you need yours resent.
Why a Freezer Challenge
In last week's blog post we shared that the environmental impact of refrigerants is thought to be one of the greatest contributors to climate change. This alone would be a great reason for holding an international cold storage competition. It turns out, there are also several others:
Managing cold storage isn't just about the kWh.
Implementing proper management and destruction of refrigerants would have THE GREATEST IMPACT on mitigating global warming. Period. More than rooftop solar, more than planting trees, and more than walkable cities, properly managing and disposing of hydroflurocarbon (HFC) refrigerants has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 89.74 Gigatons. This analysis was done by a team of climate scientists and published in the eye-opening book Drawdown.
What's the problem with HFCs? They have a high global warming potential (GWP) - anywhere from 1,000 - 9000 times that of CO2.
What can you do about this? If you're retiring a freezer this year, take an interest in its end of life. Ask your facilities management team how the refrigerants are being removed, and inquire into what will happen to the refrigerants next. And make sure your freezer is disposed of expeditiously - you don't want it to start leaking! If you're purchasing a new freezer, avoid purchasing units that contain HFCs. It doesn't matter how inexpensive they are, just don't buy them. It's literally the number one thing you can do to help mitigate global warming - and it gets you extra points in the Freezer Challenge!