August 24, 2015

Robots In The Hood

Will the liquid handler robot fit in a "Standard" hood? Probably one of the more common questions that liquid handler sales people are asked, and of course...the answer is not so simple.

Why? Well, the question is not specific enough.Generally speaking, there are two flavors of fume hoods found in life science labs. Permanent hoods are floor mounted structures that often include swing away access doors that allow instruments to be wheeled in/out of the protective environment. Portable or bench top hoods, as you may surmise are more easily installed or moved about a lab. Both types perform the same basic functions:


- to protect the user from inhaling toxic gases (fume hoods, biosafety cabinets, glove boxes)
- to protect the product or experiment (biosafety cabinets, glove boxes)
- to protect the environment (recirculating fume hoods, certain biosafety cabinets, and any other type when fitted with appropriate filters in the exhaust airstream)

So...back to the original question about liquid handlers... Currently, very few multi-channel liquid handlers will fit in permanently mounted hoods. The Hamilton Open Nimbus, Agilent Bravo SRT (not std Bravo) and PE/Calper Zephyr are the most common liquid handlers found in hoods, due mainly to their shorter stature.

A number of liquid handler manufacturers now offer options the turn their robots into self-contained, benchtop hoods. By providing saftey shield doors to restrict deck access, the robot itself is isolated from the lab and lab personnel. Two important features enable these setups to fully mirror their permanent mount enclosures.

HEPA Filration- High-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA),remove (from the air that passes through) 99.97% of particles that have a size of 0.3µm. HEPA filters are critical in the prevention of the spread of airborne bacterial and viral organisms and, therefore, infection.

UV Lamps -Ultraviolet sterilization is useful for targeted elimination of microorganisms in air and water.  UV lamps can be manually controlled by the operator, or they can be controlled using robot I/O. A word of caution on that approach through...looking at UV lamps without proper eye-protection can cause serious eye damage! If you have the robot control UV lamps it is best to incorporate user prompts the force an operator to initiate the process and reminds them to don eye protection.

Finally, if you already own a liquid handling robot and it was not designed to include shielding/HEPA/UV options, or if it is too large to fit in your hoods, you can always have a customer hood designed for it. This is often the simplest and least costly route. Our colleagues at Biodirect offer this service.

Source - borrowed gratuitously and heavily from Wikipedia Fume Hoods