Make your lab a friend of the environment
Did you know that automated sample preparation can dramatically reduce your lab’s environmental footprint? The secret lies in the reduction of reaction volumes. Buffers, solvents and more specialised and costly reagents are integral to laboratory operation, used in everything from basic chemical reactions to sophisticated molecular analyses, making them fundamental building blocks of scientific advances. As a result, they often make up a significant – and overlooked – portion of the total experimental costs, and can take a toll on the environment.
Summing up the impact
The environmental impact of these chemicals is compounded over multiple stages, including production, packaging, transportation and disposal. Their manufacture often involves resource extraction, energy consumption and chemical synthesis, which can lead to emissions of greenhouse gases, pollutants and hazardous waste by-products. In addition, laboratory reagents are usually packaged in materials that might not be easily recyclable or biodegradable, contributing to waste accumulation. Transporting these chemicals to the lab leads to further carbon emissions, especially for long distance or urgent deliveries. On top of that, once the reagents have been used, they must be disposed of properly, as inappropriate disposal measures can lead to contamination of soil, water and air, posing risks to ecosystems and human health.
Since it would be impossible for labs to stop using chemicals altogether, the next best thing is to use them in the smallest quantities as possible. Automated sample preparation can significantly reduce the use of reagents in laboratory settings, as it makes it possible to dispense liquids with higher precision. As a result, the minimum amount of material can be used for each experiment, reducing overall reaction volumes. This approach also allows more effective and thorough optimisation of experimental workflows, enabling systematic testing of different conditions with smaller volumes of reagents. Additionally, automation reduces the likelihood of human errors that can lead to reagent waste due to mistakes in measurement, mixing or handling.
ePrep ONE to the rescue
Here at ePrep, we have many years of experience working alongside chromatography labs to understand their pain points and identify opportunities to grow. Our ePrep ONE fully automated, end-to-end solution for chromatography sample preparation was designed specifically to help laboratories increase their accuracy and throughput, while minimising reaction volumes. ePrep ONE uses analytical syringes to offer precise control of microvolumes and flow rates at high pressure, while the instrument’s highly adaptable software allows you to test different variables to find the best performing workflow. With typical volume accuracy and reproducibility of ±≤0.5 %, the improved quality of data produced using the ePrep ONE eliminates the need for duplicate and triplicate samples. Together, these features allow reaction volumes to be decreased – potentially from litres to microlitres – resulting in less wastage and lower operational costs.
The advantages of employing ePrep ONE is evident in the example below (see Figure 1), where the same workflow was performed manually by both an experienced lab technician and a trainee, as well as automated on the ePrep ONE. The task was to carry out a 1:100 dilution of a 50 ml sample containing 500 mg of caffeine. The ePrep ONE was able to achieve this much faster, with higher precision, using only a fraction of the reagents compared to the manual approach.
Figure 1: The benefits of using ePrep ONE compared to a manual approach.
A main take-away from this is that it is important to be aware of the environmental impact of the reagents and chemicals used during laboratory workflows. At the same time, it possible to cut down reagent use – and therefore costs – significantly by using automated sample preparation solutions, like the ePrep ONE, which contribute to both efficient analyses and environmental responsibility.