SP0149: Green Light Microscopy

Status: COMPLETED July 2015 - August 2016

Green Light Microscopy (SP0149) continues the work started by SP0091 to replace mercury-based light sources in microscopes with new solid state systems, the end result of which is a reduction in energy consumption, health hazards, ownership costs and waste streams. Resources from the SPF will be used to help replace the 5 remaining mercury based light sources in the Advanced BioImaging Facility (ABIF, Physiology) and facilitate student projects to measure the impact results of the change.

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In December 2012, The Advanced BioImaging Facility (ABIF, Physiology), the Cell Imaging and Analysis Network (CIAN, Biology) and the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI, MUHC) microscopy core conceived the mercury free microscopy (MFM) program and it was funded by the McGill Office of Sustainability. The grant funding plus funding from the ABIF, CIAN, the MNI Microscopy core and Lumencor, Inc. was used to replace nine mercury based light sources with new solid state mercury free systems eliminate approximately one kilogram of mercury waste from McGill. Two PHGY396 undergraduate research projects showed that the LED technologies had increased light intensity output, increased intensity stability, reduced consumable costs and decreased power consumption. In September of 2013, the team presented the LED light source results to faculty, staff and students from across campus. Seven light source companies funded the event with sponsorships and set up information booths to present their LED based technologies. The program was highlighted by BioOptics World in 2014 and the research results were presented at the Canadian Cytometry and Microscopy meeting (June 2013) and at the international Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) meeting (March 2014). An article on how core facilities can integrate LED based light source initiatives into their operations and also act as ambassadors on their respective campuses to promote the green initiative was published in the Journal of Biomolecular Techniques and was recently awarded the outstanding manuscript award for 2014. During phase 1 of the project we created marketing material that is on display in the three team member facilities and has been incorporated into educational materials.

The program, Mercury Free Microscopy, will be renamed Green Light Microscopy (GLM). GLM is a more inclusive name that will not be limited to mercury free initiatives. It includes all of the sustainable advantages of the program in SP0091-Green Light Microscopy, such as the elimination of mercury such as reductions in energy consumption, health hazards, ownership costs and waste streams. This name also indicates that microscopes will perform more efficiently with an upgrade to a sustainable
lighting solution. All of the MFM marketing material will be updated to reflect this new name.

In order to be a true ambassador of GLM the ABIF has been chosen to be the first McGill Microscopy core facility to go completely mercury free. In order to do so the 5 remaining mercury based light sources in the facility will be replaced. The systems will be incorporated into existing Zeiss equipment on campus and Carl Zeiss Canada is very supportive of the initiative and will maintain the equipment after it is purchased. A campus wide campaign of awareness to remove old mercury based technologies and replace them with sustainable light sources will be expanded. Educational initiatives and student projects to investigate new and emerging light source technologies will be conducted. Two or more PHGY396 projects will continue the work in partnering with companies and testing different light sources on the market for optimal performance and economic feasibility. A second set of PHGY396 projects and a second summer student will focus on completing an inventory of the total number of existing mercury containing light sources in the life sciences complex (LSC). The projects will also involve determining estimates of the total return on investment economically and environmentally of a complete GLM conversion beginning with the LSC. This will lay the groundwork for a full campus wide GLM initiative. The project will investigate the role external stakeholders such as Quebec, Hydro Quebec, Environment Canada, UNEP, and other institutions can play in this light source replacement initiative. The team will also develop an incentive program to encourage researchers to replace their existing mercury based light sources. Some of the incentives for researchers will include reduced consumable costs, better instrument performance, reduced energy consumption and a stake in Vision-2020.

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Advanced BioImaging Facility, Cell Imaging and Analysis Network, Montreal Neurological Institute

Related Projects

Mercury Free Microscopy (SP0091)




claire.brown [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. Claire Brown)

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