Laboratory air distribution issues and how to solve them
There are many types of laboratories – from R&D labs where people develop new products and solutions, to high-grade labs where scientists use chemicals, explosive or even hazardous materials in their daily work. One common attribute of all of these shares is the importance of an air distribution system that ensures the highest quality air supply and eliminates issues related to it.
Tommy Dreyer Jensen
Sales Manager, Nordic countries
In many cases, conventional solutions are just not efficient enough to provide the best air distribution possible but the HVAC industry is constantly evolving and there are some alternatives that address the needs of these extremely regulated environments.
From air turbulence to comfort – key pain points
Those who work in various laboratories know, that these premises can have various pain points regarding air distribution and how extremely important that is in such controlled environments. One example – labs that deploy fume hoods have to ensure the uniform air velocity in the room with no turbulence. And that is not easily achievable with the requirement of an exceptionally high air volume.
In higher-grade laboratories, a much more different issue emerges. Since the scientists there are working with hazardous or explosive materials, HEPA filters have to be installed so they would ensure the intended particle filtration. Historically, only conventional solutions were thought to be able to install HEPA filters in their diffusers but then again, these create other unpleasant side effects – drafts, cold spots, and uneven temperatures.
Speaking of unpleasant side effects, they are very much being felt in many lab environments where people develop solutions without using hazardous materials. And these laboratories require maximum comfort for employees, which eventually leads to higher productivity and better health. But, if there are constant drafts or various cold spots around the room, people will generally feel less motivated to do their work.
There is one more detail that usually appears even before the laboratories become operational. Many of them are in smaller spaces with low ceilings filled with smoke and fire detectors, electrical wirings, tools etc. And the higher the class of the laboratory, the more alarms and gadgets there are. The tighter space often makes it a challenge to fit a proper air distribution system and it can become a real headache for engineers or architects when dealing with it.
The best solution comes in fabric
Labs with fume hoods especially benefit from using fabric ducts. Whether one fume hood or a room filled with them, fabric ducts ensure there is an equal and non-turbulent air supply of huge air volume that helps the equipment function properly. Fabric ducts provide equal air distribution throughout every inch of the laboratory, which allows fume hoods to be moved around without having to change the location of diffusers.
The HEPA filter situation can also be solved quite simply as fabric ducts can incorporate these in a straightforward fashion. If the whole air distribution system is centralized and HEPA filters are installed in the main air delivery unit, it can perfectly work in a combination with fabric ducts. This ensures the intended particle filtration for high-grade laboratories. And, just like in a low-grade laboratory, the system will still deliver high air volumes, create perfect air quality, and will not affect the processes happening inside the premises. Most importantly, fabric ducts can be used in as high as grade 3 laboratories.
With fabric-based air diffusion systems, it is possible to create perfect indoor air quality in the simpler labs, where people are developing or creating new products and the system will eliminate drafts and unwanted sounds. In addition, properly installed fabric ducts reduce the likelihood of cold spots, thus not only increasing comfort but also reducing the risk of employee illness.
Flexibility with no compromise on the performance
Fabric-based solutions are ideal in these environments as they are more flexible than conventional approaches and can work in the tightest spaces. That is why, fabric ducting can be easily tailored to the specific requirements, sizes and can go around the biggest obstacles, just to avoid any infrastructure, already installed on the site. Engineers know that laboratories require a high air volume and a non-turbulent environment for all the processes to operate smoothly and precisely. More and more engineers are coming to realize that fabric ducts are the best way to achieve this ideal.
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