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The Price of PBS These Days!

The Price of PBS These Days!

It seems that everyone is throwing their hands up about gas/petrol prices these days. In the US, gas prices have now reached $4/gallon, while in the UK, they are hovering around a whopping $10/gallon.

But what’s all the fuss about? A lot of effort goes into producing gas – you have to find, extract, refine, transport, and of course, tax it (especially in the UK) none of which is cheap. So maybe gas consumers are getting value for money.

Well, compared to lab workers they certainly seem to be. For some of the liquids available for molecular/cell biology, some of which are much easier to produce than petrol, $4 or even $10/gallon is peanuts. Here are some examples to help keep things in perspective next time you are at the pump.

Distilled water: Run the tap, pass the water through a distillation unit, then maybe through a sub-micron filter to clean it up at the end, bottle, then ship. A bargain at $75/gallon.

PBS: A salty version of distilled water. Must be expensive salt because it raises the price to $100/gallon.

10x TBE: Slightly more elaborate salty distilled water, coming in at $150/gallon

Molecular biology grade water: In the lab, we used to call this holy water because many people swear by it. It’s just very clean water, but how much cleaning can you do for $300/gallon?

DEPC treated water: The price of being RNAse free? $350/gallon, apparently.

Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium: Cell food. $375/gallon

LB Medium: Water, salt, Marmite and chopped up soya beans. $400/gallon

Ethidium bromide: The stuff of the devil according to some (but not all), the price is devilish though… $25,000/gallon

EcoRI: To be fair, this stuff takes a lot of effort to make but, just for fun, a standard prep comes in at $375,000/gallon

All food for thought so maybe we should lay off those poor impoverished oil companies. Or maybe not.

What’s the most over-priced thing you’ve bought for the lab?

Photo: lorenzodom


  1. tee on August 11, 2008 at 11:17 am

    @marie-claire: our lab uses Trigene. There’s a good review here http://www.biocompare.com/review/378/Medichems-Trigene-Disinfectant.html. It seems pretty safe as it’s actually used in veterinary situations.

  2. Nick on July 16, 2008 at 5:05 am

    @Marie-Claire – Thanks for the suggestion – “10 ways to kill your bugs” – could be an interesting article.

    @Chris – I’m not saying I buy them at these prices! 🙂 I’m Scottish, so frugality is a given. I can’t believe people actually pay these prices, but since the companies are pushing them, I presume someone must be.

  3. Chris in Happy Valley on July 15, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Yeah, maybe not…

    But on a more serious note – where are you getting your reagents? You’re getting shafted! What you need to do is hire an undergrad. For about $20000 a year they can do all that for you. Labour is cheap!

  4. BioBlubb on July 15, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Well, don’t get me wrong, but I think there’s nothing to care less about than chloride ions… except maybe water…

  5. Marie-Claire on July 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Just a comment about the introduction : increase in gas prices is the only efficient means to diminish CO2 release !
    This leads me to a question, otherwise unrelated to the present post : I would appreciate a post on how to ecologically dispose off genetically modified organisms (E. coli, viruses, culture cells) from the lab. I currently use bleach and am not happy with the process because it releases a lot of Chloride in the environment.

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