Education

Queen Mary University of London

Farringdon, London

CLIENT: Queen Mary University of London
ARCHITECT: Fraser Brown MacKenna
QUANTITY SURVEYOR: Cooch & Associates
VALUE: £1,000,000
CONTRACT PERIOD: 36 Weeks

This 36 week long scheme involved the construction of a new cryogenics store on the universities Charterhouse Square campus.

Before works to form the new cryogenics facility could begin a temporary store has to be constructed to home 8 Dewar tanks for the duration of the project. The relocation of the tanks from their previous location required careful planning and co-ordination with the University’s team. The entire process was time critical as the tanks extremely specific conditions had to be maintained. Failure to sustain a constant internal temperature of -198 degrees centigrade could have resulted in irreversible damage to the biological samples within.

The temporary store remained operational for the 36 weeks whilst the new 1 storey structure was under construction. Now complete the new facility doubles the Cryogenic Unit’s storage capabilities boasting 20 Dewar tanks containing over 1 million samples. The Dewar’s are fed through vacuum lined pipes linked to a new external 5,250 litre liquid nitrogen bulk tank.

As liquid nitrogen can significantly deplete oxygen levels a three stage oxygen monitoring system had to be installed. Constant on screen readings and a traffic light system ensures workers only enter the facility when oxygen levels are safe. Normal atmospheric conditions contain around 20.9% oxygen, if readings within the store reach 19.5% or below the safeguard system will automatically issue an amber warning and increase extraction in an attempt to stabilise conditions. If this fails and levels drop below 18.5% a red warning is sounded at which time extraction is maximised and the supply of liquid nitrogen to the building is cut off.

All mechanical and electrical installations including the oxygen monitoring system, climate control and fire and intruder alarms were linked to the University’s existing central network. Collaborative planning with university staff and the use of acoustic shrouds helped minimise disruption to the surrounding campus buildings, all of which remained in full occupation.

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