Hybrid Power System in Medical Laboratory Instrumentation

BioCare is leading the way by utilizing lithium ion batteries to increase the amount of power available for an automated slide stainer not provided by a standard wall outlet. Valence supports this ingenuity which improves diagnostics and, ultimately, patient care.

Hybrid power in laboratory instrumentation

Article by Jennifer Schwedler and David Basiiji published by Medical Laboratory Observer

Ongoing pressure to reduce healthcare costs, combined with a shortage of qualified histotechnicians, is driving testing labs to increase slide staining throughput and efficiency. Enhancing throughput is a multifactorial problem that weighs the tradeoffs among process speed, process reliability, and available equipment and labor, all with an overarching constraint that staining quality must be upheld. In the current challenging reimbursement climate it is essential that equipment manufacturers continually develop higher-throughput automated staining systems to improve diagnostics and, ultimately, patient care.

Slide stain

The first wave of fully automated slide stainers revolutionized the way in which clinical and research pathology labs organized their workflow, made staffing decisions, and reduced their sample turnaround time to meet increasing workloads. Automated staining instruments showcased the value of online deparaffinization and heat-induced epitope retrieval (HIER), leading to enhanced staining consistency in less time and with less labor. However, the first-wave instruments imposed a ceiling on the number of slides, typically 30, that could be processed in parallel even if more slides could be loaded into the machine.

In order to achieve the goal of staining more than 30 slides in parallel and more slides per day, it is necessary to increase the amount of power available for the heating of AR solution from a standard wall outlet. Without costly and sometimes unavailable high-power dedicated circuits, the maximum power available to an instrument is typically ~1800 watts, comparable to that of a hair dryer.

One strategy for increasing available HIER power relies on a common characteristic of most staining protocols for formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues. The power-intensive HIER phase of FFPE tissue staining constitutes less than one-half the total slide processing time. Later protocol phases tend to require much less power since the slides are stained at room temperature. A high-capacity energy storage device (e.g., a lithium ion battery) can be used to boost the power available during the HIER phase, after which the storage device is recharged during the remainder of the staining protocol when excess power is available from the wall circuit. Such a strategy relies on a specialized device called an inverter/charger that converts the battery’s direct current (DC) power to AC power and combines it with AC power from the wall circuit, thereby increasing the power available from ~1800W to over 3000W. Though inverter/chargers are not generally employed in biomedical or other instrumentation, they are well-proven and widely used in high reliability grid-tied and battery-backed power installations that rely on transient charging via solar panels and/or generators. Using such a strategy with a modestly-sized lithium battery, parallel slide processing capacity can be increased from 30 slides to 48 slides, a 60 percent increase.

Read the full article here: https://www.mlo-online.com/hybrid-power-laboratory-instrumentation