Problem: For many years, researchers and facility engineers involved in pharmaceutical, biotech and industrial laboratory practices and design have sought safer waste fluid collection and containment systems. In many cases the aspiration (titration), containment and disposal of waste fluids in the lab have been supported by the use of “home-made” vacuum trap systems. These traps are typically constructed from readily available silicone tubing and large carboys or other glass bottles connected directly to the lab’s central vacuum supply system (if one is present) and provide a means by which waste fluid can be extracted and captured prior to treatment and disposal. These systems usually lack any automated fluid monitoring capabilities and instead rely on human observation to circumvent spills, overflows and potentially hazardous chemical reactions. Vacuum traps also pose potential risks of large scale contamination to a facility’s central vacuum source if not properly monitored and filtered. Keeping track of excess waste that accumulates in home-made traps is not only an important issue for technicians and laboratory managers concerned about their workplace safety but also a concern for facility engineers who are tasked with preventing these mishaps from happening in the first place. And now that many new laboratory buildings are being constructed without centrally plumed vacuum or gas sources, the challenge is two-fold: how best to support self-contained waste fluid extraction and how to maintain laboratory staff safety?
Solution: It is more reliable and safe to use equipment that offers no human monitoring, total containment of waste fluid and safeguards against overfilling. The VACUSAFE, manufactured by Integra Biosciences, offers laboratory technicians a safe and simple system for the aspiration, containment and disposal of hazardous liquids. The system is an adjustable bench top vacuum pump (with a range of about -300 mbar to -600 mbar) that pressurizes either a four-liter polypropylene or a three-liter glass bottle to create a vacuum supply that will simply, safely, and easily assist in the handling of fluids. Not only is a benchtop system more easily maintained than the home-made devices, but more safety and convenience options are available for maximum efficiency and cleanliness. Bottles can be capped with either a lid that includes a level-sensing circuit (which prevents fluid overfilling) and quick couplings for fast and obvious tubing connection, or a more affordable lid with barbed tubing fittings without level detection. To protect against contamination and harmful vapors, a hydrophobic filter is installed at the pump outlet to ensure the pressurized air in the vacuum and pump is not harmful. The system even has an optional pump air-exhaust tubing connector to prevent any contamination of the working environment.
Included with the vacuum system is the VACUBOY hand operator, an ergonomic, time-saving tool to aspirate liquid with the VACUSAFE. The VACUBOY can be fitted with a variety of easily configurable single and multi-channel adapters to accommodate the myriad liquid storage vessels. For reuse, all of the compatible equipment, including the bottle, lid, tubing, connectors and hand operator are 100% autoclavable and reusable.