NCI at Frederick Team Receives 2014 HHS Green Champions Award

By Ashley DeVine, Staff Writer; photos by Richard Frederickson, Staff Photographer
A man and a woman by a poster

Project participants from the Office of Scientific Operations: Craig Reynolds and Laura Geil. Not pictured: Gary Happel and Kristin Komschlies. 

A team of NCI and Leidos Biomedical Research employees at NCI at Frederick received the Energy and Fleet Management Award, one of the 2014 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Green Champions Awards, for comparing the costs and energy usage of two -80°C freezer technologies.

This was the first scientific study to be jointly conducted by Leidos Biomedical Research’s Applied and Developmental Research Directorate (ADRD) and Facilities Maintenance and Engineering Directorate (FME).  

The team compared conventional -80°C mechanical freezers and new technology, -80°C ultra-low temperature liquid nitrogen (LN2)–fueled freezers, to determine whether the new freezer type would provide energy and cost savings if used at NCI at Frederick. A paper on the study is being written for publication.

The NCI employees on the team were Laura Geil, program analyst, Office of Scientific Operations (OSO); Gary Happel, retired general engineer, OSO; Kristin Komschlies, Ph.D., project officer, OSO; and Craig Reynolds, Ph.D., associate director, NCI.

The ADRD employees included Michael Baseler, Ph.D., director; Brad Foltz, program director; Donna Pike, Biorepository senior program coordinator; and David Toke, Ph.D., Biorepository director. 

FME employees included Fred Guarino, senior electrical designer; Craig Robillard, senior project manager; and Leonard Wrona, FME Engineering manager.  

The NCI at Frederick Central Repository has about 340 -80°C mechanical freezers in use, and many laboratories also use these freezers. The new -80°C LN2-fueled freezer technology was first made commercially available in 2012, according to Geil. “The new freezer type uses less energy, has lower operating costs, and provides better protection for valuable materials in the event of a power failure,” she said.

After a six-month study period, the team found that using the new freezer type to maintain the same number of tissue samples resulted in a 31.4 percent decrease in electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and a net cost savings of 24.6 percent, compared to using the conventional freezers.

Geil noted that the study was initiated to determine if -80oC LN2-fueled freezers would be a good investment for NCI at Frederick’s Central Repository.

“Everyone played a part in making this project a success,” Geil said. “For my part, I found it fun analyzing experimental data again. I started working in an NCI at Frederick research lab about 20 years ago, but moved away from the bench in 2007.”

Project participants from Facilities Maintenance and Engineering (from left): Leonard Wrona, Fred Guarino, and Craig Robillard.  Project participants from the Applied and Developmental Research Directorate (from left): Michael Baseler, Donna Pike, and David Toke. Not pictured: Brad Foltz.