Why do some labs need ULT freezers?

ULT refers to ultra-low temperature. The name of these freezers, ULT, refers to their operating temperature range (−40ºC to −86ºC). 

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ULT Freezers are available in a range of sizes: many are large upright freezers, while some are so small, they could fit on a tabletop. Chest ULTs resemble the freezers used to store meat in restaurants, while others are larger walk-in freezers.

Here is what to consider when deciding if there is a need for a standard freezer or a ULT Freezer in a lab. 

Low temperature vs. ultralow temperature

A typical freezer, like the one people have with their refrigerator at home, retains a temperature of nearly −20ºC. ULT freezers can achieve temperatures as low as −86ºC, making them ideal for preserving biological samples.

Blood, DNA, RNA, bacteria and cell cultures are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations. An atmosphere maintained at a specific temperature could be provided by an ultralow temperature freezer to prevent damage to the samples.

Normal freezers are susceptible to temperature fluctuations, particularly when the doors are repeatedly opened and closed. On the contrary, ULT freezers could rapidly restore their set temperatures once their doors have been closed. This way, the contents stay at a relatively steady temperature every time, helping avoid sample deterioration.

Temperatures warmer than −40ºC are frequently insufficient for conserving specimens. They remain intact for an extended period when kept in an ultralow-temperature freezer. For example, bacterial and fungal cultures stored at −80ºC can remain viable for five years or more.

What are ULT freezers used for?

ULT freezers are not ideal for regularly utilized samples (for example, daily or weekly). A regular −20ºC freezer will function well for such types of samples.

Ultralow temperature freezers are excellent choices for several uses:

  • Preservation of microbes and cell cultures for a long time
  • Storage of bodily fluids and human tissues for biobanking or blood banking
  • Storage of biological materials that are susceptible to heat, such as vaccines, antibiotics, RNA, DNA, and proteins

Such samples can be stored at stable temperatures in ULT freezers, preserving their viability and extending their shelf life.

A ULT freezer is essential if the user’s lab often deals with these specimens. It will help save thousands of dollars worth of samples that could quickly degrade when stored in normal freezing conditions.

Which ULT freezer does the lab need?

The quality of the product is the most important factor to consider when purchasing an ultralow-temperature freezer. The freezer must maintain a constant temperature inside. It must be able to quickly restore its set temperature following the addition or removal of samples. Quick recovery guarantees that temperature stability has been achieved and that the samples will stay intact for an extended period.

Users can also consider the volume of samples that they need to store. An upright ULT freezer is sufficient for most laboratories since they can store a considerable number of samples. Users might require more than one freezer to avoid overcrowding.

Various manufacturers integrate a range of safety features in their ULT freezers as well. Few have provisions for padlocks, while others make use of biometric security. These features are equally significant to prevent unauthorized access to valuable specimens.

About inTEST Thermal Solutions

inTEST Thermal Solutions (iTS) specializes in the design and manufacture of precision temperature control systems. Our breadth of products and in-house engineering capabilities allow us to be a single-partner-solution for thermal test, process cooling, and cold storage applications. We are recognized globally for our expertise in precise temperature control and simulation of extreme thermal environments, from -185 to +500 °C, with rapid transitions or long dwell times. The iTS family includes four product brands: Temptronic, Sigma Systems, Thermonics, and North Sciences. inTEST Thermal Solutions is a wholly owned subsidiary of inTEST Corp, Mount Laurel, New Jersey, USA.

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Last updated: Feb 16, 2023 at 6:37 AM


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