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Sustainable Materials for a Laboratory Waste and Neutralization System

Patrick Frazier, SCHOTT North America

One of most important engineered systems in a laboratory building is the waste and vent piping. Numerous studies have been written focusing on efficient HVAC systems. This is understandable because air exchange and venting is vital for laboratories, and, when done properly, offers a high potential for overall cost savings.

On the other hand, there is a dearth of available information regarding the subject of acid waste drainline systems, or "wet side design" as it is sometimes called, and what material does exist can sometimes be misleading. This is unfortunate because the design of the acid waste piping system can be just as vital to the sustainability profile and overall safety of a laboratory as other systems

In today's industry; specifying engineers, building owners, architects, and contractors are all becoming increasingly aware of the term "lifecycle costs". Very often, only the initial costs (materials and installation) are considered when choosing a piping material, and this can be very short-sighted. A well designed acid waste system that is built for sustainability will take into account not only initial costs, but also operating and repair costs over the life of the building. Independent analysis has shown that those maintenance costs can end up accounting for 25-30 percent of the overall lifecycle cost.

The four main laboratory waste piping materials to choose from are:

  • Borosilicate glass
  • High-silicon iron
  • High-end plastics: Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF)
  • Low-end Plastics: Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride (CPVC) and Polypropylene (PP)

When considering the total life-cycle costs for piping materials, the following topics should be considered:

  • Chemical compatibility
  • Thermal expansion
  • Modifications and replacement
  • Fire and safety


Patrick Frazier is the product manager for SCHOTT North America's Tubing and Labware Division. Mr. Frazier has been with SCHOTT for over six years and is a member of the American Society for Testing Materials Committee C-14 on Glass and Glass Products. During his career, he has given numerous technical presentations on acid waste piping systems. Some of the audiences include the engineering and maintenance staff of Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Vanderweil Engineers, Syska Hennessy Group, and ASPE. SCHOTT itself has over 40 years of experience working with engineers and building owners to design sustainable laboratory waste and vent systems.

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