cations they will employ. Yet, there are some common operations typical of the various scientific disciplines that give you a starting point for
such programming discussions.
Chemistry labs (including the several sub-disciplines) tend to have
complex vacuum requirements. Suction-level vacuum is used for filtration and sample prep operations. Evaporative applications are common and need deeper vacuum than central vacuum can supply. They
also benefit from electronic vacuum controls that optimize process
conditions and protect samples. Chemistry research labs usually also
need pumps that can achieve fine-vacuum levels for Schlenk lines and
molecular distillations. Given this range of requirements, it is common
for chemistry labs to need vacuum supply from bench turrets or local
vacuum networks, evaporative vacuum from dedicated pumps or local
networks and dedicated fine-vacuum pumps.
Biological disciplines use mainly suction-quality vacuum, such as the
aspiration operations used in cell culture and tissue culture. Evaporative
vacuum may be needed to accelerate the drying of genetic materials
on electrophoresis gels, so dedicated pumps or local vacuum networks
capable of evaporative-vacuum levels may be needed. Biological labs
sometimes also use freeze dryers, which need pumps (rotary vane or
scroll) capable of fine-vacuum levels to force a frozen sample or its solvent to “sublimate”—go directly from solid to vapor.
Physics/materials/instrumentation labs rarely need either suction
or evaporative vacuum; vacuum is typically used for evacuating air
and gases from a sample chamber so that uncontaminated samples can
be analyzed or modified. The ultrahigh vacuum required is usually
produced by pumps in the instrumentation itself. Apart from space
planning and exhaust management, vacuum supply to these labs is not
usually a concern of the planner or architect.
Environmental and geological science labs use a wide range of techniques that combine vacuum operations from life sciences, chemistry
and physics. Any of the vacuum apparatus used in biological, chemistry
or physics labs may be needed. Discussions with intended users are the
only way to ensure that the vacuum supplied in the construction process will serve the scientists’ needs.
Dry labs for computer analysis and modeling are an increasing presence in all areas of the sciences, complementing the work going on
in the “wet labs.” In these labs, powerful computers analyze data and
manipulate 3-D models of chemical compounds, nanomaterials, biological molecules and sub-atomic particles. Since these labs use virtual
samples instead of physical samples, building vacuum is rarely needed.
PLAN FOR ADAPTABLE VACUUM
Given the very different vacuum conditions needed in labs, it is
clear that suction-quality vacuum from a central vacuum system is
likely to meet the needs of only a small subset of vacuum users. Yet, the
widespread use of vacuum in science means that leaving vacuum out
of your planning will force scientists to rely on individual pumps for
every vacuum application, with the obvious space, energy and exhaust-management implications. A better alternative is to rely on modular
vacuum technologies that serve multiple users, operate on demand and
are flexible enough to adapt over time to changing scientific or budget
When designing new or renovated lab space, especially in multidisciplinary buildings, you improve the likelihood that you will satisfy your
client’s science and sustainability objectives if you give careful consideration to how your plan supports the likely vacuum operations in the
Peter Coffey is VP of Marketing for VACUUBRAND Inc. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.vacuubrand.com
See the results for yourself!
Scan the code or visit
to download our white paper.
The BioChemGARD® e3 biosafety cabinet
offers you sustainability without
sacrificing safety or performance.
Plus, it will significantly reduce your
(207) 324-8773 • (800) 992-2537 • www.bakerco.com
Baker builds it better.
LaboratoryDesign|JUL|AUG 2013 19