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Biomatrica Wants to Make Labs Greener by Unplugging the Freezer

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in a dormant state during drought conditions, protecting DNA and RNA from degradation. The Biomatrica products essentially shrink-wrap the sample to put it in this preserved state, Muller says. When the researcher wants to test the sample, instead of going to the freezer to thaw it out, he or she “just adds water,” to bring it back to a usable state, Muller says.

At least one obvious barrier needs to be cleared before this will really catch on. Scientists will need to be assured that Biomatrica’s technology really preserves a sample as reliably as a freezer, and doesn’t introduce some new variable in their experiments that might skew results. The company also needs to make a compelling argument that this approach really saves money and electricity.

Biomatrica has been working to answer those questions, most recently with a study with academic collaborators, Muller says. The researchers have found that a single freezer produces about the same carbon emissions as 4.5 cars per year, Muller says. Spread over 10-year period, this can add up to millions of dollars spent on electricity bills to keep samples cold at some big institutions, he says. In contrast, Muller says, it costs about 35 to 45 cents per sample to use the Biomatrica system.

Of course, Biomatrica isn’t the only company that is trying to find ways to get biologists to store samples at room temperature. Whatman, a New Jersey-based division of GE Healthcare, has a different approach, as does Carlsbad, CA-based GenVault.

Muller didn’t want to get into specifics about how much of the market his company has already penetrated, although it’s obvious that very little of the market has been tapped so far. Even in the downturn, he’s extremely bullish about the prospects that this product is gaining momentum. “I want to at least double again this year,” Muller says.

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