Lab water: Ensuring a reliable supply

Whether you need Type III water for rinsing out your beakers, or Type I+ water for sensitive analytical applications, knowing that you can rely on your water purification systems to give you the correct purity is vital to your laboratory workflow.  

Water is used for a huge number of activities in a lab setting; from equipment washing to reagent and buffer preparation there are a variety of different water grades to suit individual applications. Depending on the intended use, there are also specific guidelines and regulations (eg. ISO 3696, ASTM D1193-06 or CLSI GP40-A4-AMD) covering the pH, conductivity, and levels of particulate and dissolved contaminants. The three main water types used in labs can be broadly divided into three types, as outlined in Figure 1.



Figure 1:  A quick guide to water purity types. (© ELGA LabWater 2014)

Having the right grade of water for your needs is essential; using the wrong grade  can affect both the reproducibility and reliability of results, as well as causing quality control and regulatory compliance issues. But even if you know the correct water type for your application, you still need water purifiers that are capable of delivering it to your laboratory, day in, day out.

Choosing the right technology

There are a number of things to think about to ensure a reliable supply of high quality water. First and foremost is selecting the most appropriate purification technology or combination of technologies to meet your purity specifications and workflow demands. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. For example, distillation is both highly effective and very reliable, but similar results can be achieved at a lower cost using a combination of reverse osmosis (RO), continuous electrodeionisation (CEDI) and ultrafiltration (UF). Given the vast array of options available, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced supplier that can help you to choose the technology that meets the specific demands of your applications in the most cost-effective way.

Where is your water coming from?

The next consideration is where the water is coming from. The composition of the source water will affect both the efficiency of the purification process and the lifetime of equipment, and should be thoroughly analysed before you choose a purification solution. Depending on the quality of this source water, pre-treatment with water softeners or other chemical additives can help to cut operating costs and increase equipment lifespans. Again, a knowledgeable supplier can help you to choose the right solution for your needs.

Effective maintenance

Finally, effective maintenance is vital for any water purification system expected to operate at its best for prolonged periods. Preventative maintenance and equipment renewal schedules will vary according to the equipment type, source water, pre-treatment options and throughput of your lab, and should also be designed to provide a customer-specific balance between frequency of maintenance visits and the cost of unplanned downtime.

In summary, your water purification solution should be personalised to your lab. Choosing a supply partner with expertise in laboratory water systems will give you a reliable supply of high quality pure water and provide you with complete peace of mind.


Peter Bridge

About the Author

Peter Bridge

Peter has a background in analytical chemistry and has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience working for and supplying to a wide range of pharmaceutical, biotech customers and pharmaceutical companies.