Research Refrigerators

Research refrigerators differ completely from standard refrigerators used in the home or catering industry. You can find research refrigerators in blood banks, laboratories, hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, pharmaceutical companies and scientific institutes. Their features and design will vary from those used for food to accommodate a range of different needs. With research refrigerators optimum performance is the key: looks are not so important but they need to be totally hygienic and completely reliable.

There are several key features to consider when choosing research refrigerators. They need to maintain a consistent temperature in order to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination and explosions of volatile materials. When dealing with the storage of clinical samples or medical supplies the kind of fluctuations in temperature experienced by a domestic refrigerator cannot be tolerated.

Research refrigerators often require separate compartments to prevent cross contamination and they need to be able to hold specific medical supplies, such as blood or vaccines.

Vaccines and medicines need to be stored efficiently, especially in large laboratories, as they are expensive and incorrect handling and temperature maintenance could lead to wastage. Storing vaccines at the incorrect temperature can cause permanent damage to the chemical structure of a vaccine, leaving it ineffective and leading to a potential danger to patients.

The security of medicines is also an important factor and research refrigerators will need to be locked to prevent unauthorised personnel handling dangerous items.

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Types of Laboratory / Research Refrigerators

There are four main types of research refrigerator. Here we will outline the major purposes of each of them.

Explosion Proof Refrigerators

To ensure maximum safety in the laboratory research refrigerators used for storing flammable liquids and hazardous chemical substances need to be specially designed to be explosion proof.

Lab Fridges

Refrigerators for laboratories must to be able to record temperatures for consistent monitoring with easy to read digital displays. They need lockable sections for drugs and must be easy to clean for hygiene purposes. These general laboratory refrigerators can be used for the storage of medicines, chemicals, pharmaceutical supplies and clinical samples so individual storage areas for different substances are essential. They are also used to cool samples or specimens for preservation.

Blood Bank Refrigerators

Blood bank refrigerators need to comply with hospital standards and meet all European regulations. They need to be reliable with the ability to constantly monitor the temperature and ideally have separate compartments for different blood groups. They are used in laboratories, research centre and hospitals, not only for the storage of blood samples for medical testing but also for blood used in transfusions in emergency situations.

Chromatography Refrigerators

Chromatography refrigerators are used for research purposes where substances are undergoing a scientific procedure. Research refrigerators of this type is an ideal choice for laboratories where medical samples and procedures require precise temperature settings and stability.

Key Features of Laboratory and Research Refrigerators

Here is an overview of the features available in the varying types of laboratory and research refrigerators. Not all models have all of these features so you need to decide what your particular requirements are to find the right one for you.

Temperature Stability

A stable temperature is vital for storing medicines and vaccines so their strength and structure is not compromised. Other chemicals used for tests in laboratories also need a consistent temperature

To achieve accuracy to within 1 degree the refrigerator needs air to circulate around it using a fan to maintain an even temperature at all times. The fan will immediately cut out when the door is opened so cold air isn’t blown out of the unit, which will also assist in keeping the temperature stable.

An alarm system to alert you if the temperature does deviate from your original setting is an absolute must and should always come as standard.

Spark Proof

If you wish to store any combustible materials or flammable gases or liquids then you will need your research refrigerator to be spark proof. Normal refrigeration units used in the home or in other industries like food and beverage have electrics inside such as lights or cooling units that could cause a spark and react with chemicals to cause explosions.

In an explosion proof refrigerator the equipment inside is not electrical so no sparks can be given off in the storage area making it safe to use with combustible materials. The cabinet of an explosion proof refrigerator includes a fan that maintains a stable temperature. This internal fan is linked, via a shaft, to an external motor, which needs to meet European standards EN50014

Good Air Circulation

Efficient circulation of air in your research refrigerator helps maintain an accurate and stable temperature. You should also consider models that stop the air moving when the door is opened. If air continues to circulate then a sudden drop in degrees will affect any substances being stored.

To allow this circulation of air, units need to be fitted with air circulation grids on the base and sidewall.

Lockable Doors / Drawers

To maintain the security of medical supplies, clinical samples, narcotics and vaccines the doors on the refrigerator must be fitted with locks as standard.

As a further precaution, areas within the refrigerator, such as drawers or separate cabinets, would benefit from being lockable too. This can help eradicate cross contamination of materials and stop unauthorised personnel handling sensitive items.


Good hygiene is vital in whatever model you choose for your own individual needs. The interior of research refrigerators must be scrupulously clean to avoid any form of cross contamination or bacteria transfer.

You need to ensure that all surfaces both inside and outside are easy to keep clean and that shelves, runners and shelving pilasters can be taken out for cleaning without the necessity for special equipment. If corners are covered and the base unit is just one piece rather than several sections, then that minimises the chance for dirt traps. A build up of water through condensation can sometimes cause a hygiene concern too, so you need a model with a bacteria proof internal water drainage system.

Space Efficient

If space is at a premium in your laboratory or pharmacy then you need to choose a refrigerator that can be mounted on the wall or incorporated into other furniture units. In large hospitals or research centers then a free standing refrigerator is more likely to suit your requirements if you have a lot of items to store.

Kind to the Environment

Energy efficiency is a major concern for all businesses and important when choosing the right research refrigerator. To achieve low running costs and have less impact on the environment, choose a model with low emissions and made using CFC/HCFC-free polyurethane insulation.

Defrost Automatically

An automatic defrost function is essential to keep the refrigerator frost free and running to optimum capacity. It is also important to be able to manually defrost your research refrigerator in special circumstances too so both settings should be available to you.

Adaptable Internal Storage

It is a good idea if internal shelving and cabinets can be easily moved by hand to accommodate different heights and sizes of medicines containers and clinical sample storage. Being able to take out all shelves will also assist in the general cleanliness of your refrigerator.

Porkka's Research / Laboratory Refrigerators

Porkka has a wide range of research and laboratory refrigerators to choose from. The laboratory range are all spark proof, have automatic defrosting functions, are CFC/HCFC free, have monitors to keep the temperature stable and come in a variety of sizes to be either wall mounted or free standing. The research and test range of refrigerators by Porkka have electronic controls to adjust the temperature setting to suit your needs.

Both types of refrigerator have removable shelves, are easy to keep clean, are lockable and have a water condenser system to drain moisture away safely and hygienically.

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