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Preservation for Biological Specimens

Stable, nonflammable, crystal-clear fluids for preserving specimens

Alcohol and formalin have been used for many years by museum preservation specialists as a medium for preserving specimens for study and display. Because of the flammability of alcohol and toxicity of formalin, however, its use is increasingly restricted. Over time, alcohol can cause discoloration of the fluid and tissue.

Some alternatives to alcohol, such as formalin, can not only damage specimens, but also have health, safety and flammability concerns of their own. And formaldehyde, which is an eye and respiratory irritant at low exposure levels, is classified both as a human carcinogen and as a volatile organic compound (VOC).

Today's safe, sustainable alcohol and formaldehyde alternatives

After fixation with formaldehyde or Ethanol, 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids have been successfully used to replace alcohol or fomaldehyde as a more sustainable medium for preserving specimens of rare and often fragile marine animals. Novec fluids are low in toxicity, non ozone-depleting and have a low global warming potential. Novec fluids do not damage delicate tissues, remain crystal clear over time and have demonstrated an ability to preserve the natural color of specimens better than alcohol. For delicate museum preservation applications, Novec fluids offer a unique balance of properties, including:

  • Nonflammable
  • Colorless; non-yellowing
  • Preserves specimens' natural color
  • Chemically and thermally stable
  • Low odor
  • Low in toxicity
  • Non ozone-depleting, low global warming, non-VOC

Product Literature

Comparative Study to Assess a Novel Tissue Preservative Solution Technical Report (PDF 1.6 MB)
3M™ Novec™ 7100 Engineered Fluid Data Sheet (PDF 123 KB)
3M™ Novec™ 7200 Engineered Fluid Data Sheet (PDF 122 KB)


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