Research and Power Outages

UC Davis is connected to a location within PG&E’s statewide electrical system that is both redundant and resilient.

There is a low probability of a sustained campuswide power outage. However, power disruptions at UC Davis are possible and preparation is essential. Numerous buildings on the Davis campus have generators that provide backup power, but in general, they only power emergency systems.

Contents:

  1. Lab Preparation Before Power Loss
  2. Freezer-specific Information
  3. Anticipating Power Restoration and Equipment Impacts
  4. Response Actions in the Event of Power Loss
  5. Dry Ice

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1. Lab Preparation Before Power Loss

Power outages in areas without back-up power creates the potential for loss of valuable specimens and years of research.

Lessen the effects of a power outage, and your chances of research losses, by making the following preparations:

  • Submit a work order to Facilities Management to determine if your specific building, space, and critical equipment is connected to backup power (facilities.ucdavis.edu).
  • Submit a work order to Facilities Management to determine if your critical equipment can be outfitted with an alarm system. This will assist Facilities Management’s response in the event of an emergency (facilities.ucdavis.edu).
  • Consult with building managers, department safety coordinators and researchers on best practices within your community and/or specific research area.
  • Consider installing interruptible power supply (UPS) for equipment highly sensitive to slight power delays or fluctuations.
  • Familiarize yourself with any emergency back-up power system(s) for your area, including what is covered and how long the back-up power can be relied upon. Contact your facility manager, if you are unsure about back-up power for your location.
  • Verify that freezers, refrigerators, incubators, and other temperature-sensitive equipment, are connected to any available emergency power supplies. Consult with campus Facilities Management before connecting equipment to emergency power outlets to avoid overloading circuits.

2. Freezer-specific Information

  • Ensure that freezer seals are intact. Most freezers will hold a steady temperature or remain below freezing for up to 10 hours, if kept closed and properly sealed.
  • Research how long freezers, refrigerators, incubators, etc. will maintain proper temperatures in the event of a power failure, if not connected to an emergency power supply.
  • Identify other freezers in your lab or neighboring labs that have a back-up power source and discuss the possibility of borrowing freezer space.
  • Contact your freezer manufacturer to confirm its compatibility with dry ice. Alternately, some ultralow freezers have a separate compartment for liquid nitrogen to be used as a back-up cooling source, and that separate compartment has a pressure relief valve. Read below for more information on dry ice.

3. Anticipating Power Restoration and Equipment Impacts

  • Maintain a list of essential equipment that may be damaged by a power surge when the power is restored. Consider unplugging or turning off this equipment during the outage to avoid harmful effects when power returns.
  • Maintain a list of essential equipment that may have an automatic “ON” switch and may come on by itself when power is restored.
  • Identify equipment that may need to be reset or restarted when the power is restored. (e.g., centrifuges, computers, fume hoods, etc.).
  • Maintain a checklist/plan for how/who is responsible for restarting equipment.

4. Response Actions in the Event of Power Loss

  • Safety Services and Facilities Management can help relocate freezers to the Environmental Services Facility (ESF), which has full back-up power. You will need to coordinate freezer relocation with the EH&S representative at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), located next door to the TAPS building.
  • Establish a departmental point of contact to coordinate requests with the EOC in the event of power loss.

5. Dry Ice

Under extreme conditions, UC Davis may provide dry ice for use in -80° freezers. However, please note:

  • Using dry ice could result in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere in labs with limited ventilation.
  • Some freezer types are not suitable for dry ice.
  • VWR – ultralow freezers will allow some venting through the door, so sublimating dry ice won’t over pressurize it.
  • NuAire – ultralow freezers will allow some venting through the door, so sublimating dry ice won’t overpressurize it.
  • ThermoFisherScientific – ultralow freezers are sealed, and dry ice should not be placed inside.•
  • American BioTech Supply (from distributor Thomas Scientific) – on the inside of ultralow freezer doors is a button labeled “vacuum release port” that will allow venting. Test that button to make sure it works.