Last week, we discussed some of the factors that need to be taken into account when building a clean research laboratory. This week, we’ll see some more.
Fit Up/Hook Up
The final hook up of your research equipment to the building utilities is an often overlooked cost when budgets are being prepared. Attention to detail cannot be over stressed. The performance of a half-million-dollar microscope can be compromised if the connection to the required utilities is accomplished with components from the local hardware store. The skill of the crafts people completing the installation is also very important.
The life cycle of your research laboratory should be taken into account when the original budgets are developed. A properly designed facility will have the flexibility to allow for the change out of equipment and perhaps the movement of interior partitions. Obviously, a new building can be constructed with materials, utilities, and cleanliness that give it a longer useful life than an existing space that forces design compromises that can limit future upgrades. New research facilities can be constructed to allow for modification and they can remain functional for 10 to 20 years. However, if you choose to pursue a single line of research or to complete a series of experiments with a short duration, then renovation could be the most cost-effective solution.
Chemistry and Geometry
In the design of a new research facility, whether a renovated space or new construction, one must take into account the type of research, the gases and liquid chemicals used, and the feature size or geometry of the devices to be made. The classification of the space, per the building codes, can limit the types or quantities of chemicals that can be stored inside your facility. Depending on the chemicals used, special ventilation or lab exhaust systems may be required. The exhaust cabinets will minimize the displacement of oxygen in the advent of a catastrophic release. How you store and dispense liquid chemicals should be planned for during the design phase of the project to avoid the creation of unsafe situations or the inadvertent exposure to researchers.
Training and Education of the End Users
The researchers, graduate students, and others who will be working in the facility must be trained to use and operate not only the research equipment, but also the facility environmental controls. Variations in environmental conditions such as air pressure, temperature, and humidity can have an impact on test or lab results. Persons entering your space that do not understand the cleanliness of the environment, may not gown up properly or even at all. Particles, dander, and spittle can all contaminate a tool, wafer, or lab sample. Personnel movement and actions as simple as slamming a door may disrupt an ongoing experiment. If an untrained person connects your new tool to an ultra-pure gas or water system, they can introduce contaminates that compromise the entire delivery system.
Life Safety Systems
In any research facility, the protection of the personnel working in the space is of paramount importance. The design and installation of life safety systems such as fire sprinklers, toxic gas detection, oxygen monitoring, and under-raised-floor liquid detection are a key part of the overall safe operability of your research laboratory. Life safety considerations can include interlocks on certain doors to prevent two doors from being opened at the same time. Emergency exhaust systems or provisions for the quick dilution and draining of hazardous liquids should also be a consideration. The sophistication of the life safety systems will be in direct response to the type of research conducted and the hazardous substances used.
Solutions: Master Planning
Like everything else in life, the project that is begun well usually offers the best chance for eventual success. To that end, most of us go through a project scoping session called Master Planning. Master Planning drills down into the very basics of what you want to accomplish, how you want to proceed, and when you need to have it done. The really good ones even bore into the necessities of future phases of research.
From: “Building a Clean Research Laboratory”