Laboratory

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A laboratory or lab is a facility and/or workroom that provides controlled conditions for scientific or technological research, experiments, analysis or measurement, either professional or amateur. Laboratories are generally well defined places, separate from other chambers, with specific guidelines and requirements.

General

Labs are rooms equipped with a variety of scientific instruments, such as glassware, measurement apparatus, workbench, cabinets, fumehoods and sometimes gloveboxes.

Equipment

The most important lab equipment are:

Apparatus

Every lab requires a weighing scale, a thermometer and a source of heat.

Although once commonplace, an open flame for a heat source has largely been replaced by the hotplate and stirrer combination, mostly due to ease-of-use, secondly due to the reduced explosion hazard with volatile chemicals.

A source of cooling water is needed for reflux operations, which can be supplied by normal tap water or a bucket and pump arrangement.

A well equipped lab will have a vacuum pump of some nature, possibly a simple Venturi type, right up to a multi-stage purpose-build pump.

Glassware

By far the most common laboratory glassware is the humble test tube.

Next are all sorts of glass containers, ranging from simple bottles, through beakers, conical flasks, round flasks, even long-necked quantitative measuring flasks.

Probably the most iconic lab glassware is the distillation apparatus, consisting of a boiling flask and a condenser, of which there are many types.

Disposal tanks

Corrosive or hazardous products that cannot be properly neutralized quickly, contain valuable or toxic metal ions or require special disposal are to be stored in chemical resistant bottles, generally in a ventilated area.

Other

Starting a lab

First, one will need to choose a place generally away from dwelling space. A shed is a good choice, as it offers natural ventilation which prevents the build-up of flammable vapors and toxic compounds.

Safety

Working in a lab involves various risks, ranging from workplace injuries to exposure to various dangerous reagents.

Every lab must have basic PPE readily available, plus an adequate fire extinguisher.

The lowest level of PPE required are eye protection, gloves and protective clothing.

For more hazardous operations that may result in dangerous gasses/airborne particulate matter a fume hood may be required, even a gas mask with the correct filters fitted.

Beyond these measures, a positive pressure suit and/or radiation protection could be required for extremely dangerous work.

References

Relevant Sciencemadness threads