Research & Innovation

Advanced Technology makes cryogenic storage safer

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Advanced Technology makes cryogenic storage safer

August 26
10:38 2015

In recent years the use
of Asistec New Logo (Documents)liquid Nitrogen (LN2) and liquid Heliumin
cryogenic facilities has increased dramatically. The volume and value of cells necessitated the provision of multiple layers of protection to ensure the cells safety and security.

The use of liquid gases with large expansion rates holds very real dangers for personnel using the facility. Health and Safety awareness and training of personnel using the facility has improved greatly in recent years.

Technology systems
Biological storage facilities are using more sophisticated controls and automation systems compared to a decade ago. These include:

  • Inventory control systems for various sized sample materials from vials to large volume bags.
  • Inventory location software.
  • Radio frequency Identification systems to locate target samples quickly and efficiently.
  • Environmental monitoring systems for audit purposes. Proof of correct storage conditions
  • Environmental monitoring systems to warn and alarm in the event that an unacceptable condition has arisen within the cell storage vessel or surrounding environment.
  • Multiple Fill Control systems Management for Cell storage vessels, including sequential filling and simultaneous filling from a large Liquid Nitrogen source.
  • Appropriate Oxygen monitoring systems.
  • Intermediate LN2 Tank controllers.
  • Isolation controls on LN2 supply systems.
  • Gas bypass control systems.
  • Failsafe decant systems.
  • Ventilation systems including calculated standard background air changes, ramping air changes with events and finally room purging in the event of a catastrophic event.

Stem Cell facility Dublin

  • Storage vessels
  • Super Insulated PipelinesStem cell facility Dublin
  • Rate controlled freezing
  • Gas Bypass systems
  • Sequential Filling
  • Oxygen monitoring
  • Slam shut systems
  • Audit monitoring systems
  • Inventory control systems
  • Ramping ventilation controls

The modern cryogenic facility uses many if not all of the above systems. They are integrated and connected. The sum of the system makes the facility, the cells and the personnel using the facility safe.

There is a financial cost to cell safety. The more spent on systems the safer the cells are.
There is also the cost on protecting the personnel using the facility. Spending too little or none at all can be and has been fatal. What value is a life?

The issue of personnel safety in Cryogenic facilities has been brought to prominence after two recorded deaths in the UK due to asphyxiation.
The Safety, Health and Welfare (general application) regulations 2007 Section 8 say that Employers should provide and maintain a safe workplace and provide training and instruction on health and safety. Contact and non contact hazard classes should be covered.

The question is how much you value the cell line or the research work stored within the facility. This can be very difficult to quantify.

A Principle Investigator and research group who spend years on research work. The research work is priceless.
Then there is the Pharmaceutical plant producing medicines where the cell stock has a very definite monetary value.

Recently a pharmaceutical plant was developing systems to ensure the safety of their cells. There was quibbling about the price of €30K for LN2 supply control systems. The question was raised, what is the value of the cell lines within the 2 large cell storage vessels?
The response was, ‘One Billion euro’s per vessel’. There was no more quibbling.

Pharmaceutical plant, Ireland

  • Dual fill controller
    communicationPharmaceutical plant, Ireland
  • Gas bypass systems
  • Oxygen monitoring
  • Slam shut controls
  • Prioritising fill controllers
  • Ventilation controls.

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