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2022 NIH Freezer Challenge

​Eighteen labs and one IC, shown in the table below, participated in the 2022 NIH Freezer Challenge to improve freezer management, increase freezer reliability, and reduce energy consumption. 

The challenge was held from January 1 to May 15 of 2022. Challenge initiatives ranged from maintenance options, such as defrosting freezers, to laboratory best-management practices, such as changing the temperature setting of Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers from -80°C to -70°C. Changing the temperature setting of an ULT freezer from -80°C to -70°C reduces the amount of work that the compressor does, which increases freezer reliability and reduces energy consumption by about 30%. 

In total, the 2022 NIH Freezer Challenge resulted in annual savings of ​288,258 kWh/year, $28,662/year and 211.84 MTCO2e greenhouse gas emissions/year. These savings are from only from nineteen participants​​. These results show the power each lab has to increase freezer reliability while also protecting the environment. ​Imagine what we could do if the entire NIH joined in! Participate in this year's Freezer Challenge to help out!​

My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) hosts an annual International Freezer Challenge where thousands of labs from private companies, universities and government organizations compete to see who can reduce the most energy consumed by the freezers in their labs. The NIH Freezer Challenge Results were submitted to the International Freezer Challenge.

The table below shows the 2022 NIH freezer challenge participants.

2022 NIH Freezer Challenge Participants
Freezer Challenge​​ POC
NCILaboratory of Cell BiologyMichael M. Gottesman, M.D.Barbara Murphy, M.S., M.T.​

NCILaboraotry of Human CarcinogenesisCurtis Harris, M.D.Adriana Zingone, M.D., Ph.D.
NCIMolecular Oncology and Gene Transfer SectionDennis Hickstein, M.D.Thomas Bauer, Ph.D.
NEILaboratory of Immunology, Molecular immunology SectionCharles Egwuagu, Ph.D.Cheng-Rong Yu, M.D., Ph.D.
NHGRIBell LabDaphne W. Bell, Ph.D.Ariana Umana Torres, Ph.D.
NHGRIChildhood Complex Disease Genomics SectionNeil Hanchard, M.B.B.S, Ph.D.Aparna Haldipur
NIAIDArbovirus Vaccine Research SectionStephen Whitehead,. Ph.D.Elaine Lamirande
NIAIDImmunobiology and Molecular Virology UnitAndrea Marzi, Ph.D.Joseph Rhoderick
NIAIDMolecular Pathogenesis UnitEmmie de Wit, Ph.D.Brandi Williamson, MPH
NIAIDViral Epidemiology and Immunity UnitLeah Katzelnick, Ph.D., MPHAna Coello Escoto
NICHDSection on Molecular TransportSergey Bezrukov, D.Sc, Ph.D.Megha Rajendran, Ph.D.
NIDCDSection on Human GeneticsThomas B. Friedman,Ph.D.Barbara P. Zwiesler
NIDDKLaboratory of Cellular and Developmental BiologyJurrien Dean, M.D.Minoo Shakoury-Elizeh, M.S.
NIEHSComparative Medicine Branch, Quality Assurance LabDavid Kurtz, D.V.M, Ph.D.Tanya Whiteside
NIEHSGenomic Integrity & Structural Biology LaboratoryLars Pedersen, Ph.D.Lars Pedersen, Ph.D.
NIEHSIn Vivo NeurobiologyGuohong Cui, M.D., Ph.D.Amy Papaneri, M.S.
NIEHSRTP Campus Freezer Replacement InitiativeKerri Hartung/Paul Johnson
NIEHSViral Vector CoreNegin Martin, Ph.D.Negin Martin, Ph.D.
NINDSTranslational Neuroradiology SectionDaniel S. Reich, M.D., Ph.D.Amanda Lee​​​​​​​​

A summary of the energy savings, costs savings, and greenhouse gas reductions are shown in the table below. Visit the freezer challenge Power BI report for additional freezer challenge data.

2022 Results.png

​A summary of the initiatives completed as part of the 2022 NIH Freezer Challenge are shown in the table below.

2022 Freezer Challenge Initiatives 
Challenge Initiatives
Change the ULT freezer temperature to (-70°C)35 freezers
Conduct a complete freezer defrost82 freezers and refrigerators
Replace old fr​eezers/refrigerators  with an energy efficient model17 freezers and refrigerators
Discard samples that are no longer needed19,280 samples
Retire unnecessary freezers (-86°C)5 freezers
Retire unnecessary freezers (-20°C to -40°C)9 freezers
Retire unnecessary refrigerators (4°C)8 refrigerators
Maintain an electronic sample inventory214 freezers and refrigerators

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