Cold Stores for Volatile Chemicals and Substances

We’re all familiar with the old chemistry visual gag, aren’t we? Where a chemist mixes two brightly coloured ingredients together in a test tube, observes ominous rumbles, bubbles and vapour, which leads to a comical explosion that leaves the chemist looking frazzled and rather confused. That’s not incorrect if the chemist does not take proper procedures when conducting experiments, and indeed it very well happen if they incorrectly store their chemicals. Some, for example, require placement in refrigerated containers and kept at certain temperatures.

The science of cold storage

pharma cold store

Most of the time however, it’s a lot less dramatic. Some chemicals just need to kept at certain temperatures to prevent them from deteriorating or becoming inert, in which case they potentially become useless for whatever experiment they’re being used it. Medical substances, such as antibodies, enzymes or vaccines, likewise require to be kept in cold stores to stop them becoming denatured and lose activity. Placing them into a refrigerated container can thus increase their storage life by a considerable degree. Generally ice-free cold stores are preferable, as they mean there’s less chance of ice contaminating a sample and less need for defrosting.

Needless to say, such refrigerated containers should be single-purpose, and not used to store drinks or beverages. Who really wants anthrax or hydrofluoric acid in their Pepsi?

Which products need special attention?

Hydrofluoric acids in particular should be stored in non-flash refrigerated containers to prevent them from causing a reaction, and should also be labelled as such. What that means is that there should be no sparking components -- lights, switches or thermostats, with no openings through which flammable vapours from within the cold stores can escape into an environment that may ignite them, or devices mounted externally that could the same.

Solvents with a flash point below 4°C, such as diethyl, can also create a combustive atmosphere within the sealed container of the cold store unit. Exercise extreme caution when opening them and ensure that no devices are within or without that could trigger a reaction. Your eyebrows are there for a reason.

Best cold storage practice

Always ensure that your cold stores are safe, efficient and carefully monitored. Never store bottles and containers within your cold stores haphazardly, such as in stacks or in disorganised clusters. Any build up of redundant material, such as mould or dust, should be regularly cleared. Certain refrigerated containers may also contain compartments within the doors that are tempting to store bottles within. Don’t give in to that temptation. If those compartments should become over laden and the door too vigorously opened, the bottles may fall out and strike the floor, where they may split or fracture. If necessary, remove those compartments altogether to eliminate the temptation.

For further information on cold stores, cold rooms and blast freezers, please visit the website of CRS Cold Storage to see their full range of cold storage devices and supplies. 

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