Ductless fume hoods, workstations, and enclosures (sometimes called filtered fume hoods, fume cupboards, or enclosures) have been used since the 1960s. Fume hoods remove vapors and fumes produced by routine lab procedures, chemical handling, and other potentially hazardous or toxic applications. While these ductless products can be used for a broad spectrum of laboratory uses, the benefits compared to a traditional total exhaust fume hood or laminar flow hood are often overlooked.
By looking at our top five reasons to go ductless, you will see many benefits you and your laboratory stand to gain that can directly impact your budget, your safety, and regulatory compliance. The benefits of ductless filtered fume hoods are real and tangible.
The upfront or initial cost to purchase a ductless hood may be more expensive than a traditional total exhaust fume hood if you are only factoring in the hood cost. When determining the actual cost of ownership of the whole exhaust fume hood, you should consider installation and commissioning costs as well as the annual operational cost for energy and certification.
Once you buy a ductless fume hood, the primary year-after-year cost is replacement filters. Depending on the nature of the application and the filters installed in your ductless hood, the filter price can vary. However, these reoccurring costs are far less expensive than the energy expelled from exhausting heated, ventilated, and air-conditioned (HVAC) air back into the environment.
Based on data from 2018, the cost of electricity is increasing, and the majority of commercial energy use is going towards HVAC. As the price of electricity increases, so does the operating cost of total exhaust fume hoods. One study by The University of Berkeley even estimates the energy cost of a single six-foot fume hood is 3.5 times that of the average American home!
For lab temperatures to be consistent, exhausted air must be continuously replaced with conditioned air. This causes higher energy bills and, potentially, an increase in the facility infrastructure to be able to produce the increased demands for fresh conditioned air. These costs do not include the additional items associated with installation such as new ductwork, certification, and construction to retrofit old buildings for total exhaust.
Comparing the cost of HVAC to replacement filters, the cost of HVAC, over a year, is higher with most ductless units paying for themselves within five years. Fume hood calculators can provide a general cost to the operation of fume hood. To operate a six-foot traditional fume hood in Sacramento, California, using recent energy costs at a sash height of 18 inches would be over $5,000.00 per year. See more on the energy cost associated with ductless by checking out our Going Green article!
Lab space is a luxury in most labs and rearranging is important when new equipment arrives. For start-up companies or those that rent or lease space, this can create a new business expense not factored into the plan. Installing a fume hood in a rented or leased space, becomes part of the infrastructure of that space and cannot be removed. Ductless fume hoods offer portability, you can change your fume hood's location whenever you need to as long as the new location has adequate electricity and space. Electrical requirements are generally 110V AC and less than 8 amps. For reference, a standard electrical outlet is 110V AC and 15 amps. A ductless, or filtered fume hood, has one connection point to infrastructure, the electrical cord. A traditional exhaust hood is physically attached to the building and has ductwork running to the exterior of the building.
This portability allows the owner of a ductless fume hood an excellent exit strategy when renting or leasing lab space. The traditional fume hoods, once in place, become a fixture of a facility and may prevent you from moving to a better location. Ductless fume hoods give you the flexibility to easily move as your business grows and expands. The portability of ductless fume hoods offer an excellent investment for startups and other fast-growing companies.
Many believe ductless fume hoods can only be used for niche applications or strictly with volatile organic compounds. AirClean® Systems bonded carbon filter technology allows ductless fume hoods to be used for a far wider array of chemicals and end-uses.
Activated carbon holds some affinity for nearly any chemical, although some chemicals are poorly adsorbed. To address these problem chemicals, AirClean Systems studied and developed specially impregnated carbons. These proprietary impregnates work to boost the efficiency of poorly adsorbed chemicals, such as smaller amines, acids, and aldehydes, to boost the capacity of the carbon.
While other companies may promise similar impregnates, loose or granular carbon can lead to shifts in transit and lead to dead zones in the filter. This can cause potentially hazardous chemicals to easily pass through. AirClean Systems' bonded carbon technology ensures evenly distributed layers of carbon to ensure even filtration.
The proprietary bonding process provides an unmatched safety feature that other companies' granulated carbon filters cannot offer: they do not release fine particulate during operation. The carbon dust given off by competitors' filters may contain trapped chemicals or pose health hazards if inhaled. To mitigate this risk, other companies have added additional safety filters designed to catch particulate matter released by their carbon filters. These additional filters ultimately add to the cost of filter replacement and maintenance.
To ensure your application is suitable for a ductless fume hood, our carbon chemist reviews each application worksheet. We look at evaporation rates, chemical concentrations, competing chemicals, and how the application is performed to make sure the proper filter is selected for your application. By using actual filter testing data conducted at our in-house laboratory along with computational modeling, we can accurately determine the best product for your chemical application!
Since ductless fume hoods exhaust air back into the lab environment, our goal is to ensure optimal safety for the end-user. While the application worksheet helps us assess your application before purchase, our commitment to safety can be seen in the standard features included in each of our ductless fume hoods.
AirClean Systems' ductless fume hoods incorporate a variety of electronic monitoring devices to determine filter saturation, airflow condition, and overall fume hood performance. Our ductless fume hoods incorporate one or a combination of the following sensors and detection devices: photoionization detector (PID), metal oxide (MOX) safety sensor, acid detection sensor, pressure sensor, airflow sensor, temperature sensor, and humidity sensor. Some models also use manual ports to conduct colorimetric sample tube testing in the exhaust stream. These sensors are calibrated to alarm before the occupational health and safety administration (OSHA) exposure limits are reached. These sensors offer a reliable method for monitoring fume hood performance while providing an audible/visible alarm when filter breakthrough or an adverse event occur during use of the fume hood.
Unlike other manufacturers, AirClean Systems' ductless fume hoods include all the necessary safety features and do not require you, the customer, to pay additional costs for features to keep yourself safe. AirClean Systems is committed to ensuring each ductless fume hood and laminar flow hood meets the requirements to maintain a safe laboratory environment, no matter what your price point. We never skimp on your safety.
Traditional total exhaust fume hoods release chemicals into the environment. In theory, when released into the environment, the chemicals dilute and do not pose a significant health or safety risk. This, depending on the chemical, could be true but other issues should be considered when determining if a total exhaust hood should be replaced with a ductless fume hood. If an application can be safely and effectively performed with a ductless solution, why bother to test the above dilution theory? If the experiment is not appropriate for a carbon filtered ductless hood, then maybe another method of air scrubbing of the toxic fumes before releasing them into the environment is applicable and can be utilized. To ensure the most environmentally friendly solution, all methods of exhaust air scrubbing should be reviewed when implementing a new system.
The purpose of a ductless chemical fume hood is to reduce pollution introduced into the environment. This happens by filtering vapors and fumes out of the air before returning the cleaned air safely to the lab. Carbon filtration uses Van Der Waals forces to kinetically lock chemicals to the carbon surface with micro and mesopores. Once the chemical is bonded to the carbon surface, these chemicals become trapped within the activated carbon. The filter can be securely and easily disposed of by sealing the used carbon filter. The bonus advantage to AirClean Systems' ductless filtration is in the propriety bonding process, eliminating dead zones and carbon dusting.
Preventing toxic chemicals from polluting the environment is only part of the solution. The HVAC savings and decreased energy use also helps reduce your lab's overall carbon footprint. The energy-efficient blowers keep operating costs low and keep your environment clean so your lab can focus on what is important: your work.
As an alternative to carbon scrubbing exhaust air, the AirMax® Total Exhaust Fume Hood with Wet Fume Scrubber can be used to remove water-soluble chemicals before exhausting. No total exhaust system can offer containment of 100% of chemicals, but AirClean Systems offers an array of solutions to minimize your lab's impact on the environment and the impact on your wallet.
Ductless fume hoods offer a great solution for the majority of chemical applications performed in laboratories today. Advancements in technology continue to make ductless hoods even more appropriate for a variety of applications and challenges. AirClean Systems' focus on cost, portability, versatility, safety, and the environmental impact provide excellent reasons for you to contact us today. Find the ductless fume hood, or laminar flow hood, that meets your application challenges and helps protect the environment.