The Need for Reliable Power in the Lab

By John DeLeonardis and Keith James  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: What is a BSL Lab?Pt. 2: The Challenges of BSL Lab DesignPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Lab Exhaust Air RequirementsPt. 5: Other Lab Design Factors: Physical Barriers and the EnvelopePt. 6: Meeting Standards, Controlling Costs

Many facilities can tolerate a brief loss of electricity and control. The level of risk posed by the downtime or degree of impact on operations typically determines the measures used to return power to a facility. For example, conventional facilities that can tolerate some downtime may be provided with an emergency generator on a manual or automatic transfer switch, or have no emergency power at all. Other facilities with critical life-safety systems or devices, where any interruption in power is intolerable, are likely to require a UPS. More critical facilities will probably have a combination of features, including an automatic transfer switch to emergency power generation and UPS devices.

The role of emergency and backup power supply systems in BSL 3 and 4 cannot be overstated. To ensure a high level of protection, every critical safety system or element directly supporting the lab — including equipment, ventilation, lighting and control systems — must remain online without interruption at all times. Most systems or devices will be hooked up to UPS, supported by back-up generators, or both. Emergency generators should automatically engage when the main power source is lost.

In other facilities, emergency power is generally relegated to providing control over critical systems. It is intended only to provide adequate power to allow systems to be shut down or to remain running in a sustainment mode while personnel safely secure the work area and evacuate. Because the majority of systems will not have redundant emergency power systems, procedures should be implemented that address the possibility of the generator not activating. Alarms and evacuation plans should be designed to account for and protect personnel and the facility. Personnel should be aware of the risks associated with working in these environments. They should be fully and constantly trained on evacuation procedures and protocols.

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  posted on 8/1/2008   Article Use Policy

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