Construction of new bioBUBBLE completed

COLLEGE STATION — The Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University is one step closer to the grand opening of its new state-of-the-art facility in College Station with the installation of a bioBUBBLE Controlled Environment Enclosure.

This containment enclosure is a soft-walled, negative pressure “bubble” that provides an economical, controlled environment for research with Biosafety Level 2 requirements and procedures that may produce aerosols.

Dr. Gary Acuff, director of the Center for Food Safety, said the installation of this enclosure provides a level of biological control of a large environment that has been previously unavailable to TAMU food safety researchers.

“This enclosure will allow scientists to challenge and validate food processing steps or specialized equipment using the bacterial pathogens the process is intended to control, something that would never be possible in a food processing facility,” Acuff said.

“Providing the food industry with accurate information regarding the level of pathogen control possible within the Critical Control Points of their food process is extremely important for assuring the safety of our food supply.  We are excited to have this new capability.”

The bioBUBBLE containment room consists of a modular anodized aluminum framework, vinyl skin with Velcro-like connections, blowers with long lasting, energy efficient, electrically commutated motors and high efficiency HEPA filters.

The specific bioBUBBLE installed at the Center for Food Safety provides a negative pressure environment powered by 80 air changes per hour of HEPA-filtered exhaust, which provides containment of aerosols, dust, and airborne pathogens. This HEPA-filtered exhaust provides an increasingly sanitized surrounding environment and prevents aerosols or contamination from escaping to the exterior of the bioBUBBLE.

Although there is clear separation between the bioBUBBLE and the surrounding laboratory, the clear vinyl walls facilitate complete visual access without needing to enter the contained environment. This also diminishes factors of isolation while still allowing unlimited communication.

The aluminum casters on which the Center for Food Safety’s bioBUBBLE is built provide portability that can be specifically designed to meet research project’s needs. And the addition of silicon berms allows containment of possible liquid spills.

The Center for Food Safety will be located at The Science Park on Earl Rudder Freeway and is scheduled for completion this summer.

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The Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University works to expand and improve food safety activities across the university’s academic departments and units, and to enhance external visibility and public knowledge of these activities.

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