Case Study: Michigan State University
Simple tank monitoring helps labs, leads to HVAC control via mobile
Deionized (or “DI”) water is an indispensable staple in chemistry and biology laboratories, and Phil Hegge, responsible for providing DI water to several research laboratories, was running dry.
Hegge is Facilities Director at a large biotechnology research center owned by the Michigan State University (MSU) Foundation. Located just off the MSU campus in Lansing, Michigan, the center houses MBI, an “incubator” organization that helps to move early biotechnology innovations through the startup phase and into commercial applications.
Participating researchers at MBI receive services and resources, including the use of several bench-scale laboratories. Each lab taps DI water produced by the building’s central water deionization and filtration system. This works well except when the labs use DI water faster than the water deionization system can replace it. When this happens, the storage tank can run dry. In the laboratories, the impact of this shortage varies; it’s an inconvenience to some, but to researchers far along in a protracted experiment it can be a major problem.
Hegge knew that installing a larger capacity water deionization system and storage tank would solve the problem, but he also knew that this costly and labor-intensive solution wasn’t likely to occur soon. In the interim, Hegge thought that researchers could benefit simply by knowing how much DI water was available in the tank at any given time. With a quick check of the water level in the storage tank, a researcher could know if there was enough DI water to complete an experiment, or if the experiment should be rescheduled.