Container Laboratories

Equipment Type: Laboratory

Portable containerised laboratories provide additional laboratory facilities on board research ships when scientists require additional space.

A container laboratory used for monitoring a deep platformA container laboratory used for monitoring a deep platform
The containers are standard 20-foot ISO steel shipping containers fitted out to a high standard with 220V 13A socket ring mains, air conditioning, sink with fresh and sea water (non-toxic) supplies and fridge-freezer.

The National Marine Equipment Pool currently has four types of containerised laboratory.


These container laboratories must be used for any work using radioactive isotopes. They have easily cleanable surfaces and spill containing benches to allow for easy cleaning to ensure effective decontamination after a cruise. A fume cupboard is installed to provide a safe working environment when using hazardous chemicals. Benches are modular and can be removed if required to allow installation of special equipment such as a Flow Cytometer. A small laminar flow cabinet can be installed if requested to provide a “clean air” working area. At the end of the Cruise a set decontamination procedure has to be undertaken by the user.

Clean chemistry

These laboratories are supplied when a Scientist needs a very clean environment to work in such as when carrying out trace element analysis. They are built to a similar specification to the radionuclide container with highly cleanable surfaces and any exposed metal surfaces kept to a minimum. A laminar flow cabinet is fitted to provide a “clean air” working environment for experiments. Ultra pure water purification systems (Millipore) can be installed if required. Bottle racks for mounting full CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) water bottles in the container can also be supplied.

Constant temperature

This container laboratory is used when a Scientist requires a fixed temperature to carry out their work in. It is similar to a clean chemistry laboratory but with a very high specification air conditioning plant designed to maintain a lab temperature of between 2 and 30°C to within ±1°C of the set point. This lab is fitted with a recirculating type fume cupboard for working with hazardous chemicals. Ultra pure water purification systems and bottle racks for mounting CTD water bottles in the container can also be installed.
General purpose

These containers are more basic than the other containers and are used to give additional general lab space on board. They can be supplied with fridge-freezer, water purification systems or CTD bottle racks if required.

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Available for use/hire by external contacts