ComFLab - Enabling a high end container cleanroom through computational fluid dynamics

Professional science facilities are rarely found outside conventional research institutions. However,their availability may greatly help the generation and dissemination of science and technology in oursocieties. At the core of ComFLab is the design of an open, high-end biochemistry laboratory in a shipping container. The project uses advanced numerical methods in computational fluid dynamics to optimise air circulation in the container and maximise control of contaminant dispersion. This is a fundamental requirement in the realisation of the first, open, low ISO class biochemistry container laboratory and a step forward towards a more flexible way of doing science.

Modern science is characterised by two key factors. First, boundaries between disciplines are now more fluid than in the past, as interdisciplinary collaborations grow. Second, technological advancements are considerably increasing the availability of cutting edge science to a broad audience.

ComFLab is inspired by these trends and is a cornerstone in the development of a unique open science facility resulting from the collaborative effort of engineers, biologists, chemists and designers. The ComFLab project will be led by Roberto Maffulli, Lecturer in Engineering Science at Balliol College, and will be realized in cooperation with other Oxford University researchers and with the science collective Biotop ( Biotop has recently designed a first prototype of container lab, with no contamination control: this is currently installed at OpenCell in London (

The project is therefore part of a broad initiative, where Biotop and Oxford University scientists will use existing resources and novel strategies to create the first low ISO class biochemistry lab in a shipping container.