A new look at gases in the laboratory-
Temperature-controlled enclosed spaces and clean room conditions are commonplace in modern-day laboratories. Gases are fed into this enclosed space from cylinders outside the laboratory, which pose a unique set of safety risks.
Laboratories now need to be temperature and humidity regulated to a very tight tolerance, and this needs to be done in an environment that is almost entirely dust-free. “The resultant challenge is fulfilling all the quality-related parameters in view of the laboratory’s safety requirements,” states Afrox special products and chemicals technical services manager Hans Strydom.
He adds that one of the biggest dangers is liquid nitrogen dewars in electron microscope laboratories without adequate air replacement. “Here, the boil-off of liquid nitrogen dilutes the oxygen – causing a danger of asphyxiation. Toxic gases that cannot be extracted from the sampling procedure and expelled to a scrubber to neutralise the gas can also be problematic as far as environmental standards go.”
Strydom indicates that these types of challenges should be addressed during the design phase, as it is very difficult to undo design flaws after the facility is built. “Engaging with the consulting engineer and architects before the design, and giving a proper scope of what is needed, will save time and money in the long-term. Afrox offers comprehensive support and assistance with regards to ensuring that all relevant standards are adhered to,” he concludes.
African Oxygen Limited (Afrox) is sub-Saharan Africa’s market leader in gases and welding products. Afrox was founded in 1927, listed on the JSE in 1963, and has prospered by constantly meeting the needs of customers and developing solutions that add value to customer applications. Afrox operates in South Africa and in ten other African countries. It also manages operations in five additional countries on behalf of its parent company, The Linde Group – a global gases, engineering and technology company.