PolyScience: Innovation in the Laboratory - DuraChill® Chillers 

DuraChill® chillers are easy to operate and easy to maintain. Find out why ease-of-use became the mantra at PolyScience when designing these innovative, reliable chillers.

PolyScience
Oct 28, 2019

Innovation has risen to new heights over the last decade. Some electric cars can run more than 200 miles on a single charge. New batteries can keep cell phones powered for more than 7 days. And 5G networks allow data transfer at speeds ten times faster than 4G. These innovations all came about because companies listened to their customers. Innovations in scientific equipment shouldn’t be any different. A laboratory chiller’s ease-of-use, impact on the environment, and noise level all have to be considered in new designs, which is exactly what the PolyScience team did with DuraChill®—a portable recirculating chiller with up to 2900 watts of cooling capacity.

 “Everyone wants more innovation, if it’s in your phone or your chiller,” said Philip Preston, President of PolyScience. “Once we were able to truly define what ‘innovation’ meant to our customers, then we were able to begin to innovate and create with a purpose.” 

Chillers have the ability to provide years of cooling capacity for various large-process cooling applications. CAT scanners, for example, have many moving electrical parts and heat builds up quickly—the instruments and the room they are housed in need to be kept cool to prevent over-heating. Other instruments like lasers, electron microscopes, analytical instruments, general lab equipment, and incubation equipment also require temperature control equipment.

“Liquid temperature control is touching your life throughout your entire day,” Preston explains. “When you go to wash your hair with shampoo, well, one of the key quality control test points is going to be the viscosity of the shampoo. Well, viscosity is temperature-related.” Preston said, explaining that this affects food products, cosmetics, and even motor oil. “We’ve gotten into a lot of very fun emerging markets.”  

The PolyScience team listened to their customers when designing their new line of chillers: “We spoke to our customers then went a step further and spoke to people who weren’t our customers and the story was the same—they wanted innovation that let them focus on something else, something other than the care and feeding of their chiller. They wanted ease of use,” Preston said. They also listened to feedback from their service and quality departments. They found that customers wanted to spend less time on maintenance tasks, such as filling reservoirs, cleaning units, and replacing filters.

"We looked carefully at return statistics and one common reason for returns was 'no problem found or a misuse'.  In many cases these kinds of issues are often overlooked opportunities for innovation because the chiller did not fail on its own due to a design or quality issue.  It failed because of a lack of maintenance, knowledge of proper operation, or just plain neglect.”

Taking a deep dive into these issues, Preston and his team didn’t see these as insurmountable hurdles. Instead they embraced them as exciting opportunities to make real change. “If you want to redefine an industry, you look at those types of issues as the opportunities to say yeah, but how do we make it a product where that just doesn’t happen. And what innovation is necessary to prevent that from ever occurring again.  And I think that’s the game changer.”

Ease of use became the mantra at PolyScience; on their three-year journey to build DuraChill, the team thought about every aspect from an ease-of-use perspective. They designed the chiller with a reservoir that could be filled from the front, making it easy to access, avoiding spills and saving time. They also incorporated patented self-changing filter technology that changes itself for up two years, dramatically reducing downtime and unnecessary service calls, relieving researchers of the burden of preventative maintenance. As part of their commitment to the environment, they developed a patent-pending UV Light Biological Growth Inhibitor that continuously controls biological growth in the fluid path without adding chemical growth inhibitors, preventing algicides from being released into the world’s waterways. They also included capacitance liquid level sensor so that the customer can see the liquid level on the front panel; the chiller sounds an alarm when the liquid gets to a critical level, and the system will shut down before the pump starts sucking in air, helping to prevent system damage.

Customers had also complained that their chillers made excessive noise, which was a problem especially for researchers spending entire days working close to chillers. “The vast majority of the noise of a chiller is coming from the condenser fan,” Preston said. “If you’ve purchased a one-ton chiller, you just live with the noise of that fan.”

To overcome this, the PolyScience team developed the patented WhisperCool technology, which controls the speed of the fan based on the demands of the application. For example, if a laser needs two kilowatts of cooling, the DuraChill will provide only what’s needed despite having a higher cooling capability, which reduces excessive noise.

 “How can we make a chiller that has less of an impact on the environment?” was another driving question when designing DuraChill. “The DuraChill line really represents what we believe is the game changer in this world of precise temperature control and portable chillers,” Preston said. “We’ve brought in all of the features that we could come up with that represent environmental considerations, such as reduction of refrigerant gas, and prepared these units for the introduction of new refrigerants that will be even more globally responsible.”

For decades, PolyScience has designed products with an eye for environmental stewardship, looking past short-term financial returns to provide solutions that are cleaner, more efficient, and longer-lasting. PolyScience’s manufacturing practices meet ISO 14001 Environmental Management System guidelines, as confirmed by a biannual third-party review. 

The DuraChill line is designed to reduce global warming potential by being equipped with an advanced refrigeration system that requires less refrigerant. Moreover, the refrigeration system employs a combustible gas-sensing capability, making the DuraChill cooling system adaptable to ultra-low global warming potential natural refrigerants that will soon be required by the European Union. The majority of the chiller’s components are recyclable and meet or exceed global environmental standards.

Learn more about the DuraChill line of chillers at: polyscience.com/durachill