Cold-Wall or Convection?

Critical Considerations for Application Selection
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By: Mike Lamach, Reach-In Sales Leader, FARRAR™ | Trane Technologies / Originally posted by Entegris

The explosion of needs for -80°C through -60°C assets over the past decade has been nothing short of remarkable. Clinical research investments keep expanding while commercial-scale needs continue to transform the landscape. Due largely to the relative newness of commercialized products requiring cold storage, technologies have advanced incrementally while fundamentally mimicking the technologies of the past. Cold wall remains the gold standard of laboratory applications. Cost, size, and ease of procurement continue to influence cold-wall technology selections and dominate infrastructure purchases.

Conversely, the commercialization of cold solutions and the need for bulk volumes have placed substantial stress on cold-wall technologies to perform in applications for which they were not designed or intended. The industry increasingly views the conventional ultra-low temperature (ULT) cold wall as a ‘consumable’ despite the sustainability and operational issues caused by asset failures ahead of their anticipated life.

So, does alternative technology exist? The short answer is “yes.”

Traditional cold-wall technology: Conventional cold-wall technology, as deployed in all ULT freezers, is designed to promote cooling via expansion of a refrigerant through a series of chamber wall capillaries. This technology focuses on making the ULT shell as cold as possible, given that the ULT’s center would eventually reach the target temperature with minimal door openings and warm loads.

Convection technology: Convection technology forces air, tempered to the target temperature, through a chamber. This technology aims to force sufficient air volume through the chamber at uniformity to ensure consistent and repeatable cooling throughout the chamber enclosure. This technology is especially relevant for bulk loading as the more uniform freeze profiling reduces compressor stress and extends asset lifecycle.

When evaluating cold needs for an upcoming project, installation, development of the user requirements specification, consider deploying forced-air convection cooling if the following considerations apply:

  • Larger loads
  • Wide range of potential load scenarios
  • Rigorous performance demands
  • High-value materials
  • Frequent door openings
  • Unique material handling solutions including full-batch transfer carts

On the heels of COVID and Monkeypox, the innate performance and reliability of convection-cooling technology, purpose-built for commercial applications and precision temperature needs, is robust with benefits.


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