Stirling Ultracold Helps Australia’s Telethon Kids Institute Improve the Lives of Children

By Nicholas A. Pezzuolo, VP of Channel Development

As we expand our global market presence, it’s great when we can share how Stirling Ultracold products are making an impact in regions all over the world. One example from earlier this year is the Telethon Kids Institute in Nedlands, Western Australia which purchased and installed 23 of our SU780XLE ultra-low temperature freezers (see photo to the right) through our distributor partner Bioline Global Pty Ltd. The Institute is located within the Perth Children’s Hospital and is one of the largest research facilities in Australia. Telethon is committed to improving the lives of children through extensive research in childhood diseases, conditions, and issues. Their four main areas of focus are Aboriginal Health, Brain and Behavior, Chronic and Severe Diseases, and Early Environment.

Telethon has also pledged to reduce their carbon footprint by embracing sustainable practices for the well-being of all children in the present and future. We are proud that Telethon chose our reliable, energy-efficient freezers to help them meet their environmental goals.

Ottawa Hospital Reduces HVAC Load & Cost by Replacing ULT Freezer with SU780XLE

by Tim Root, Director of Marketing

At Stirling Ultracold, we’re always delighted to hear stories about our products helping customers save money and achieve their sustainability goals. That’s why we were pleased to see Ottawa Hospital sharing good news about how they saved energy by replacing old ULT freezers with energy-efficient models, including our SU780XLE. As recently reported in their newsletter article, Research deep freezers reduce energy consumption by 85%, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) has already saved about $20,000 in utility costs per year.

Hospital researchers have not only reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint, but were surprised by how quiet the energy-efficient models operate; in addition to how much less heat they generate.

As noted in the article by Brian Cayen, Research Information Services and Operations Manager, replacing just one of OHRI’s old ULT freezers with our SU780XLE model made an immediate impact on HVAC load and comfort in the lab . . .

“The first freezer that was replaced in one of the labs reduced heat generation and allowed us to turn off one of the two air conditioning units, and the temperature in the room still dropped by 2°C.”

With benefits for laboratory, operations and sustainability teams at OHRI, this article cites another real-world example of how Stirling ULT freezers deliver tangible advantages across the entire research organization.

 

Setting the Record Straight on False ENERGY STAR® Claims

ES_Partner_logoRecently, another ultra-low freezer manufacturer “boldly” asserted that their model is the “most energy-efficient ULT freezer.” This very public claim was presented as having its basis in ENERGY STAR® certified test results that are posted at energystar.gov. While we’re pleased to see other ULT freezer manufacturers moving to more efficient designs and joining the ENERGY STAR program, we would like to set the record straight on this matter . . .

It has been confirmed that this competitor’s claim was false and the Stirling Ultracold SU780XLE has been validated by ENERGY STAR as the most energy-efficient ULT freezer. This is not our claim, but is based on the EPA ENERGY STAR calculation that qualifies ULT freezers for certification (version 1.1 specification). Anyone can go to energystar.gov and clearly see that the SU780XLE is the most efficient certified ULT freezer listed (.29 kWh/day/ft3).

Energystar Gov Lab Grade of ULT FreezersScreenshot from energystar.gov (on 11-27-17) showing the SU780XLE is the top Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer listed.

Just Another Untrustworthy Claim

Unfortunately, this inaccurate claim is just the most recent example of ULT manufacturer “marketing” that asserts unfounded energy specifications or capabilities. As I pointed out in the blog post, What’s the Difference Between “Typical”, “Specification” and “Final Test Method”?, others in our industry have confused and obfuscated for years on the issue of ULT freezer energy consumption. That’s why Stirling Ultracold was alone in publicly promoting the ENERGY STAR Final Test Method when it became the de facto industry standard in 2014. We’ve always believed that ULT freezer buyers deserve a straightforward “apples to apples” energy comparison, which is the purpose of ENERGY STAR after all. Isn’t it ironic that we’re still talking about confusion on this issue, even after long-awaited ENERGY STAR certification has come to ULT freezers?

Defining True Industry Leadership

At Stirling Ultracold, we carefully consider the validity of all technical data published in our marketing communications, which is why our products are known for delivering on promised performance in independent tests and daily operation. That’s also why we were the first in our industry to cite third-party, ENERGY STAR test protocol results for published energy consumption. We made this change to our SU780XLE product literature over a year ago to “walk the talk” and model transparency rather than the casual “specsmanship” that has become so prevalent in our industry. As an industry leader we place the highest value on accuracy and integrity to meet market needs.

We’ve said it before and we’ll now say it again . . . No other ULT freezer on the market offers more energy savings than the SU780XLE, and we would be happy to provide SU780XLE test data in the required ENERGY STAR reporting format to back up this statement. Not only is the XLE the first and most efficient ENERGY STAR-certified ULT freezer, but its field-proven Stirling engine doesn’t use compressors that are expected to fail.

Protecting the ENERGY STAR Brand

Stirling has been a strong voice in our industry for ENERGY STAR and we value it as the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency in the world. Like any asset with appreciable value, this brand must be properly used and protected. That is why Global Cooling, Inc. (parent company of Stirling Ultracold) has recently contacted the EPA’s offices of Air and Radiation and Civil Enforcement regarding the previously-mentioned false statements. As reported in our letter, several unsupported assertions were made in the public domain on the basis of ENERGY STAR misrepresentations, which are potentially damaging to us, our industry and most importantly, the efficacy of the EPA’s ENERGY STAR brand. You may request a copy of this letter to the EPA by sending an email to epa_letter@stirlingultracold.com

Stirling Announces First ENERGY STAR® Partnership for ULT Freezers with Industry-Leading SU780XLE Certification

After several years of industry collaboration, ENERGY STAR® certification standards for ultra-low temperature freezers were announced by the EPA in May. Now I’m very proud to announce that Stirling Ultracold is the first ENERGY STAR partner to be certified under the new laboratory grade ULT freezer category. As part of this partnership, our SU780XLE upright freezer has received ENERGY STAR certification, basedSU780XLE ENERGY STAR on test results obtained from a 2016 independent study that used the ENERGY STAR test protocol. Prepared for California utilities by the Center for Energy Efficient Laboratories (CEEL), this report1 validated the SU780XLE’s “weighted average” (-75°C) steady-state energy consumption as .286 kWh/day/ft3. This was nearly 50% below the published Maximum Daily Energy Consumption requirement for ULT certification (.55 kWh/day/ft3), as recently published by the EPA. In addition to steady-state energy-consumption, the ENERGY STAR test protocol includes a door-opening test, which also validated the XLE’s industry-leading energy efficiency by a wide margin in the 2016 report.

The ENERGY STAR Final Test Method allows a true, industry-standard comparison of ULT freezer energy use. Prior to the new testing method, freezer manufacturers had their own testing methods, which made it very difficult to accurately compare energy consumption of ULTs. Out of the 15 freezers that were submitted for ENERGY STAR testing in the 2016 CEEL report, five freezers qualified for certification, two of which were Stirling freezers. The SU780XLE had the lowest energy consumption of any of the competitive freezers that were tested by a margin of over 21%.

ENERGY STAR certification will give researchers finding cures for diseases real confidence in the energy savings and environmental sustainability of certified ULT storage products that preserve critical biological specimens for their work. As strong advocates for the ENERGY STAR program, we couldn’t be more pleased to see it finally being realized in our industry, along with the benefits it will bring to the research community.

1 2016 report published by The Center for Energy Efficient Laboratories (CEEL) for the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council (ETCC): Ultra-Low Temperature Freezers: Opening the Door to Energy Savings in Laboratories.

ULT Technology That Advances Both Energy-Efficiency and System Reliability

Perhaps you’re aware of the free-piston Stirling engine that allows Stirling Ultracold ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers to use less than a third the energy of legacy, compressor-based models. You may also know that this enabling technology, not only saves energy and associated operating costs, but uses 100% natural refrigerants that substantially reduce ozone-depleting and greenhouse gas emissions. However, you may not realize that the Stirling engine also advances the safety of biological samples with its inherent reliability advantages.

From the outset, Stirling Ultracold has believed that sustainable, energy-efficient ULT technology would present a very compelling choice for the research community, and we are pleased to see the recent efforts of some compressor-based ULT manufacturers to improve the efficiency of their cascade technologies.

However, it should be noted that energy efficiency was never our sole reason for bringing Stirling engine technology to laboratory cold storage. Improvements in ULT efficiency and sustainability, while important on their own merits, should always support or enhance the reliability of cooling systems that preserve valuable samples for research. The inherent reliability of the Stirling engine, while less understood, is vitally needed in our industry to further the safe preservation of biological specimens.

This innovation delivers several reliability advantages that address well-known failures associated with aging technologies used in most ULT freezers. To understand this, let’s first look at the basic differences between cascade-compressor and Stirling engine systems . . .

Unlike “cascade systems” with two compressors and cooling loops in a cascading arrangement, the Stirling engine uses a single reciprocating piston and a continuous, gravity driven thermosiphon to cool the cabinet interior. In contrast to standard cascade systems that regulate temperatures by switching compressors on and off, the Stirling engine’s linear motor system continuously modulates and adapts by controlling the motion of the free piston.

How Does the Stirling Engine Improve ULT System Reliability?
Below are several key design attributes and innovations that extend the operating life of the Stirling engine and address the common reasons why conventional ULT systems fail . . .

  • The advanced integral linear motor system has only two moving parts.
  • The moving parts never wear because gas bearings eliminate physical contact (friction) during motion
  • There is no oil to clog up the system or lubrication levels to maintain.
  • There are no valves to fail or maintain
  • 100% adaptive, continuous modulation regulates temperatures without stop-start cycles.
  • Electromechanical stress and amperage peaks from on-off surge currents have been eliminated.
  • Minimal preventive maintenance is required for reliable cooling operation.

If you would like a more in-depth understanding of how advanced ULT technology can reduce your energy consumption, while also improving reliability and sample safety, please sign up to attend our Freezer Challenge Webinar, presented by Stirling Ultracold’s Director of Quality, Chuck Stout on Thursday, April 6th at 1 pm.