Venerable university with new laboratories

University of Basel relies on VACUUBRAND for vacuum supply

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Vacuum supply as single-user solution (left) and as multi-user system solution via media column (right)

The University of Basel combines tradition and modernity: founded in 1460, it is the oldest university in Switzerland. The "Academic Ranking of World Universities" ranks it among the 100 best in the world. The University of Basel is also at the top of the list because of its contemporary laboratory concept and modern equipment. VACUUBRAND supported the university during the modernization as a partner for vacuum supply - with more than 100 pumps, measuring devices and controllers and an individually tailored concept consisting of single-user pumps and multi-user network solutions.

Five floors, 30 laboratories, over 200 users. Some professorships of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel have moved from their previous location on Spitalstrasse to a new building in the research and company area "Rosental Mitte". The challenge here is to transform a former office building into optimally functioning laboratories. The result is a modern concept with separate office and laboratory rooms for more comfort and safety. Generously proportioned work areas with modular, flexible lab furniture allow for the spaces to be reconfigured as-needed. For the planning of a vacuum supply system, the university has commissioned its long-standing partner VACUUBRAND to develop a modern concept consisting of local vacuum networks and individual, point-of-use pumps. VACUUBRAND also supported laboratory planners and architects in the detailed planning and project execution.

Complex vacuum supply

In the new laboratory building for inorganic chemistry, professors, scientific staff, and technical personnel work on various projects, mainly in the field of basic research. For their work they need laboratory equipment that is tailored to their individual needs. Each process, such as drying samples in a Schlenk Line, rotary evaporation, or filtration, has specific requirements for the vacuum supply. The solution designed by VACUUBRAND includes two VACUU·LAN® local vacuum networks per laboratory for rough vacuum supply as well as up to eight individual, point-of-use pumps integrated into the fume hoods for work in the 10-3 mbar range. This ensures that each application receives the right vacuum for optimal efficiency.

Fine vacuum supply as single-user solution

Platzierung der Vakuumpumpe früher im Abzug (links), heute im Unterschrank (unten rechts)
Placement of the vacuum pump formerly in the fume hood (left), now in the base cabinet (bottom right)

A vacuum of less than 0.1 mbar is required for drying on Schlenk lines. To meet these high process vacuum requirements, powerful RZ 6 rotary vane pumps are installed for use with each Schlenk line. The pumps are not located in the fume hood as they were in the old lab, but are instead housed in sound-insulated base cabinets, which saves space and reduces noise and odors from chemical emissions into the lab. In this way, the vacuum pumps are also protected from chemical and solvent vapors in the fume hood.

Rough vacuum supply as network solution

Chemiebeständiger und ölfreier Netzwerkpumpstand
Chemically resistant and oil-free network pumping unit

For the rough vacuum supply, two independent vacuum networks were installed in each laboratory: one for filtration and one for rotary evaporation. This allows the different vacuum requirements of the two processes to be supported with the optimal vacuum level.

Each local vacuum network simultaneously supports multiple workstations, running a variety of processes among them. This reduces the total number of pumps and thus saves space and costs. The network pumping units are located in insulated base cabinets below the work surfaces and are connected to media columns above the work surfaces. The individual vacuum connections in the media columns are supplied by PTFE piping connected via ceiling service panels.

Environmental and safety concerns are also taken into account: all pumped media only come into contact with parts that have a high chemical resistance. The emission condenser mounted on the outlet side of the network pump enables a high solvent recovery rate. The individual vacuum fixtures on the media columns are also made of chemically resistant materials and the integrated non-return valves prevent interference between users or cross-contamination.

„VACUU·LAN is one of the numerous success stories of our university modernization. The decentralized vacuum network runs efficiently and flawlessly for all our processes." (Dr. Valentin Köhler, research assistant at the University of Basel)

Speed-controlled, oil-free, chemically resistant diaphragm pumps with VARIO® technology are used as network pumping stations. The vacuum pump automatically adjusts the speed and switches off automatically when vacuum is no longer required, based on performance parameters tailored to the users’ needs.

  • Local network for filtration: At the University of Basel, a VARIO chemistry vacuum pumping unit supplies especially those processes that require a vacuum of approx. 100 - 200 mbar with increased pumping speed. The high pumping speed of the pumping station makes it possible to supply several filtration processes simultaneously.
  • Local network for rotary evaporators: Another VARIO chemistry vacuum pumping unit in the University of Basel’s labs supplies processes that require sufficiently high pumping speed at the same time as deeper pressures down to 5 mbar. This pumping unit supplies sufficient capacity to operate several rotary evaporators simultaneously. The individual vacuum fixtures are equipped with the CVC 3000 vacuum controller, which enables precise vacuum control via an electromagnetic vacuum valve.

All vacuum equipment in the new laboratories of the University of Basel meets VACUUBRAND’s high quality standards. By outfitting the entire lab space, this ensures that vacuum equipment is uniform, allowing staff to become familiar with the equipment so that they can get the most out of it. This also simplifies maintenance, and simplifies stocking spare parts that minimize downtime. "High-quality equipment and a harmonious laboratory concept are very important to us so that users can work optimally," confirms Markus Ast, Head of Facility Management at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel.

Support from A to Z

VACUUBRAND, as a full-range supplier of vacuum systems in the laboratory and through years of experience, was able to provide competent advice to both users and laboratory planners. The result is a modern, ecologically and economically sensible vacuum supply in the new laboratories. After more than two years of use, it has been shown that the requirements for vacuum supply are fully met.

"VACUUBRAND has already proven itself in previous projects. Our requirements have always been optimally implemented. The interaction with the architect's office, project management and laboratory planners also worked excellently", says Markus Hauri, Head of Infrastructure at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel.

Roland Leu, VACUUBRAND customer consultant in Switzerland, supervised the project team from planning to installation, final acceptance and instruction. Training courses are also offered at the customer's premises and at the factory in Germany. "High-quality products and comprehensive service are very important for us. Over the past decades, there have been numerous innovations in vacuum technology. We are pleased to be able to accompany the development of the University of Basel over such a long period of time," says Leu.

The University of Basel and VACUUBRAND have been working together for decades. The first joint project, in which water jet pumps were replaced by environmentally friendly and economically efficient chemistry vacuum pumping units, was launched in 1993. Then, the University of Basel was already keeping up with the times - even today, the latest project with VACUUBRAND is a showcase project: with a modern laboratory concept, the latest equipment and contemporary vacuum supply.

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