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.

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

Congratulations to the 2017 Freezer Challenge Winners

Last December, we told you about the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge, a collaboration of the I2SL and My Green Lab that promotes sample integrity, accessibility, reduced costs, and energy efficiency. As one of the Presenting Sponsors of the Freezer Challenge, we would like to congratulate the winners of this friendly competition that were recently announced.

The Freezer Challenge organizational winners were:

The individual laboratory winners were:

  • The Hoekstra Lab from Harvard University
  • The Baker Lab from Lilly
  • The Jones Lab from the CDC

Even more significant than the winners named above, Freezer Challenge participants collectively saved approximately 2.7-million kWh/year (equivalent to ≈1,900 metric tons of carbon emissions) and discarded over 200,000 samples.

We’re thrilled to have been a part of the Freezer Challenge program because it shares our core values, as exemplified by our 100% sustainable product line and Zero Waste facility. We’re also looking forward to presenting the awards to these winners at the 2017 I2SL Annual Conference on October 16 in Boston, MA.

For more information on the winners, please read the announcement from the Freezer Challenge website and the recent article on Nature.com.”

 

 

 

Stirling Ultracold’s Facility Earns Zero Waste Certification

I am very pleased to announce that Stirling Ultracold has received Zero Waste Certification from Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI), an independent certifying body that recognizes excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally. GBCI conducted an on-site assessment of our facility, reviewed our policies and practices, as well as our diversion data for the past year.  By adhering to the US Zero Waste Business Council’s and Zero Waste International Alliance’s rigorous standards for diverting waste from both incineration and landfill, this certification confirms our commitment to fulfilling the shared environmental sustainability goals and initiatives of our customers.

For us, becoming a certified Zero Waste facility is not a mere symbol or marketing pitch. Our success in reducing, reusing, and recycling waste is an extension of our core values, which have driven Stirling Ultracold’s products and approach to the research community since our beginnings. We have always believed that it is possible to align finding cures for diseases with sustainability. That is why every ultra-low freezer we manufacture supports sustainability and climate action goals with 100% natural refrigerants, industry-leading energy efficiency and the smallest possible carbon footprint. As we shared last year in our post, Why We’re Becoming a ‘Zero-Waste’ Manufacturer… Not Just ‘Zero Landfill, our Zero Waste program is part of our larger commitment to help research organizations achieve their corporate sustainability initiatives.

Having recently announced our new ENERGY STAR® partnership and certification of the most energy-efficient ULT freezer in the industry, earning Zero Waste certification is another important sustainability milestone for Stirling Ultracold because it validates our authenticity in supporting the values of our customers.

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.

Time to Take the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge

North American Freezer ChallengeAt Stirling Ultracold, our mission is to provide best-in-class ultra-low storage solutions in the most sustainable way possible; whether it’s our Zero Waste manufacturing initiatives, or the energy efficiency of our products.  That’s why we are proud to be a Presenting Sponsor of the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge – so we may encourage research organizations in achieving their lab sustainability and cost goals.

My Green Lab, the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and others have joined forces to create the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge (FreezerChallenge.org) for purposes that are close to our heart, including reducing the environmental impacts of sample storage.  Over a five-month period, starting January 15, participating labs will implement practices to optimize research sample storage, including:

  • Cleaning out freezers to remove frost, dust and debris
  • Consolidating partially filled units
  • Ensuring samples are stored at the most appropriate temperatures
  • Upgrading to more efficient freezers

This friendly competition will be a fun and collaborative way for labs across North America to make strides toward improving their sustainability and sample management practices. Participants will also gain points for following any of the actions listed above, which will be used to win awards.

As a Presenting Sponsor, Stirling Ultracold will be honored to present awards to institutional winners of the Freezer Challenge at the 2017 I2SL Annual Conference next October. This will include the Everest Award, based on the total number of points, and the Denali Award for total number of points per number of refrigeration units. Individual labs who have made the greatest effort to improve sample management and sustainability practices will also be recognized. The winning lab teams will not only be pictured in Nature magazine, but will also receive a coffee machine with Freezer Challenge mugs.

“This is the first partnership between My Green Lab and I2SL, which is very exciting,” said Allison Paradise, Executive Director of My Green Lab. “It’s a great way to outreach, and it’s a great way to get labs involved in the green lab community in a way that’s easily accessible.”

If you haven’t already, I encourage your lab to participate by signing up on the Freezer Challenge website. You’ll earn an award you can display to prove you’re greening your lab!

University of New Hampshire Test Confirms Stirling ULT uses 70% Less Energy

In the UNH test results, the Stirling Ultracold freezer showed a consistent 70% reduction in power use over the other freezers. Click the image above for more information, as presented in the UNH Research Blog.
In the UNH test results, the Stirling Ultracold freezer showed a consistent 70% reduction in power use over the other freezers. Click the image above for more information, as presented in the UNH Research Blog.

Our assertion that the SU780UE uses one third the energy of standard compressor-based, ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers might not appear believable.  After all, every ULT manufacturer is claiming to offer an energy-efficient freezer these days. That’s why I’m excited to share a post that recently appeared in the University of New Hampshire Research Blog that confirms everything we’ve been saying with vivid, fact-based test results.

Earlier this year, the UNH University Instrumentation Center (UIC) began a project to evaluate ultra-low temperature freezer technology and associated energy consumption. In the test, the UIC team remotely monitored the energy use of three ultra-low freezers including the Stirling Ultracold SU780UE.

Quoting directly from the UNH blog post, the results of this testing were as follows . . .

“In the UNH UIC evaluation, the Stirling Ultracold freezer has shown a consistent 70% reduction in power use over the other two freezers of varying age and manufacturer while the temperature stability has also yielded marketable improvements with the Stirling.”

The UIC study has led to the drafting of a memorandum that will help move the university toward offering financial incentives for the purchase of Stirling ULT freezers.  The UNH Instrumentation Center continues to develop their knowledge in the area ULT storage technology and is also hosting an Ultralow Temperature Freezer Symposiuon on October 13th 2016 in Durham, NH.

Stirling Ultracold Freezers Now Available on GSA Advantage

SDVOSB & GSA Advantage
Stirling Ultracold products are available on GSA Advantage through, Pulcir, Inc., a CVE VetBiz Certified Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business – Contract GS-07F-0360W

We are excited to announce that all Stirling Ultracold ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers and accessories are now available for purchase through the U.S. General Services Administration and the GSA Advantage website. Through our distributer Pulcir, Inc., U.S. government agencies may now benefit from the ease and efficiency of the GSA preapproved procurement process when buying our ULT freezer products.

Procurement of Sustainable and Responsible, U.S. Manufactured Products

With the availability of Stirling freezers on the GSA Advantage website, it is now easier for government agencies and research laboratories to support federal sustainability initiatives with the purchase of our energy efficient ULT freezers that use 100% natural refrigerant in place of ozone-depleting HFCs. Because Stirling Ultracold products are made in in Athens, Ohio, the purchase of our ULT freezers supports U.S. manufacturing jobs in a historically underserved Appalachian business zone. In addition, our products are available on GSA Advantage exclusively through our new distributor, Pulcir, Inc., a CVE VetBiz Certified Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (Contract GS-07F-0360W). At Stirling, our goal is to provide ultra-low temperature freezers to the research community in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible.

Easy Ordering Online

Ordering a Stirling Ultracold ULT freezer or accessory through the GSA Advantage website is quick and easy:

  1. Visit www.gsaadvantage.gov
  2. Type “Stirling Ultracold” within the product search box
  3. Browse our product line of ULT freezers and accessories
  4. Purchase with ease and confidence

For more information about U.S. government agency purchasing of Stirling Ultracold products through GSA Advantage, you can contact Pulcir at 865-272-5338 or send an email message to Nick Pezzuolo at npezzuolo@stirlingultracold.com.

Staying Ahead of the Curve Regarding HFC Concerns

drip-339940_960_720Recently, the parties to the Montreal Protocol met in Vienna, Austria to discuss a multi-national agreement to further reduce global warming. Diplomats and leading foreign ministers from around the globe are closer than ever to an agreement that would ban the use of refrigerant hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s). HFC’s are more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet, and a ban could avoid billions of tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions.

Scientists and international leaders on climate change have referred to this agreement as the single most important 2016 initiative to combat greenhouse-destroying gasses. In fact, United States Secretary of State John Kerry noted at the conference that climate initiatives such as this are as important as defeating terrorism, “because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.”

As a result of climate change initiatives like those already agreed-upon in the Montreal Protocol, nearly 100 of the most ozone-depleting substances have been phased out of use. The international eradication of HFC’s could save the equivalent of emissions from nearly 300 coal-fired power plants each year.

The final 2016 meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol is set to take place in Rwanda in November. During that time, parties hope to finalize an action plan to phase down and eventually eliminate HFC usage.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

We are pleased to see global initiatives that support the ban of HFC’s and see this as a very important step toward environment sustainability and reduction of ozone depletion. As I pointed out last year’s blog post, Pioneering the Long Journey to U.S. Hydrocarbon Refrigerant Approval, Stirling Ultracold offered the first freezer in the United States to use 100% natural refrigerants – providing an ozone-friendly alternative to HFC refrigerants that emit harmful greenhouse gasses.

We embarked upon a rigorous 3-year approval process in 2012 through the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program and we were granted approval to launch our all-hydrocarbon-based refrigerant cooling system in 2014. We’re proud to have led the U.S. market toward the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants and are pleased to see others moving in this direction.

With pending global initiatives driving toward a future reduction and phase out of HFC, leaders in research organizations and institutions should be looking toward the adoption of alternatives. For the sustainability-minded, this is about more than just being prepared for compliance with future initiatives, but is a priority for protecting our atmosphere. Either way, it should be noted that Stirling Ultracold has been successfully offering a 100% natural refrigerant solution for over 2 years. So there’s really no reason to delay plans to phase out HFCs when buying and replacing ULT freezers.

We will continue to keep a close eye on the discussions in Rwanda this coming November and we look forward to more stringent global regulations against harmful HFC’s.

Sources:

Remarks at the Montreal Protocol High-level Segment (US Department of State)

The world is poised to take the strongest action of this year against climate change (Washington Post)