Shipping containers could be converted into automated COVID-19 laboratories

'Portable coronavirus labs' built into shipping containers which can be moved about on a truck could provide a new low-cost way to process COVID-19 tests.

Scientists from OpenCell.bio and King's College London worked with a company called Opentrons Labworks to create the rapid robot-powered facility.

The team say it is the first fully functional lab that can be 'immediately deployed anywhere in the world' for coronavirus testing and can process 2,400 tests per day.

The system uses low-cost liquid handling robots to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in samples submitted for testing by the public.

'Portable coronavirus labs' built into shipping containers which can be moved about on a truck could provide a new low-cost way to process COVID-19 tests.

'Portable coronavirus labs' built into shipping containers which can be moved about on a truck could provide a new low-cost way to process COVID-19 tests.

Scientists from OpenCell.bio and King's College London worked with a company called Opentrons Labworks to create the rapid robot-powered facility

Scientists from OpenCell.bio and King's College London worked with a company called Opentrons Labworks to create the rapid robot-powered facility

For the project a 40ft high-cube shipping container is converted to a high laboratory specification while preserving its structural integrity and ability to be transported anywhere in the world and operated by one person

For the project a 40ft high-cube shipping container is converted to a high laboratory specification while preserving its structural integrity and ability to be transported anywhere in the world and operated by one person

Called CONTAIN, it's an open source design using supplies and agents not owned by any one company - meaning it doesn't have the same supply chain constraints as other coronavirus testing services.   

 OpenCell CEO Helene Steiner says the project is a vital step to increasing the number of accredited labs capable of performing COVID-19 testing.

'We are working closely with regulators to ensure our testing lab system remains capable of high quality, low cost and meets the rigorous standards required to perform population testing,' said Steiner.

For the project a 40ft high-cube shipping container is converted to a high laboratory specification while preserving its structural integrity and ability to be transported. 

The design allows CONTAIN units to be shipped to any location rapidly, and requires only flat, solid ground and utilities (electricity, water) to be operation-ready. 

A data management system

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