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Published on 25th August 2023

Clean Air Cutting ~9 Tonnes CO2e on Every Fume Cupboard Design Iteration

By Dr Andrew Manning CEng MIMechE

Welcome to the world of Clean Air – a trailblazing UK company that’s redefining the fume cupboard landscape with a strong eco-conscious twist. From 2017 onwards, we’ve been on a remarkable journey and we’ve halved our carbon footprint even as we’ve doubled our turnover. Our commitment to sustainability is etched into the DNA of every team member, propelling us towards a greener future. But it’s been getting harder to find new ways to improve…

Now imagine a world where every fume cupboard design iteration enhances efficiency and doesn’t emit a whopping 9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. This is Clean Air’s groundbreaking vision, powered by Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), where sustainability meets innovation head-on. We’re not just reshaping fume cupboard design; we’re carving out a greener future for us all.

I came to Clean Air through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Right from the interview, the company’s vision was crystal clear – “Clean Air will lead the fume cupboard industry in environmental responsibility, reduce its carbon footprint, and educate users to choose products that will cause less climate damage.”

Our three-pronged approach is simple. We’re talking with our customers about our range of sustainable fume cupboard options. In a bid to spread eco-awareness, we’ve even launched the ‘Plant a Tree in ’23’ campaign this year. We’re not just talking the talk; we’re walking it too. (Check it out here.)

But here’s where things get really exciting – our revolutionary journey powered by Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) technology.

CFD: Unveiling the Future of Sustainable Fume Cupboards

CFD is not just a tech buzzword. It’s a game-changer that’s rewriting the rulebook of fume cupboard design. I have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on CFD and Sustainability. Teaming up with highly respected industry experts and academics at MMU, we’ve transformed theoretical concepts into tangible reality. Our solution embodies academic innovation and real-world functionality – a testament to the power of partnership.

And we’re the only fume cupboard manufacturer in the world with such a technical level of CFD ability. Other fume cupboard companies have recognised CFD’s potential, but none is as advanced in applying it to the design and optimisation of fume cupboards as Clean Air!

This image shows the velocity distribution of air around a CAV fume cupboard during normal operation. The colour shows the velocity, the arrows show the direction.

Farewell to SF6 in Fume Cupboard Design: A Sustainable Leap

Let’s talk about sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) – a potent greenhouse gas with a staggering Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 22,800. It has traditionally been the standard gas for measuring fume purging effectiveness in fume cupboard design versions.

At Clean Air, our investment in CFD design embodies our commitment to sustainability. CFD modelling removes the need to use SF6. It accurately and reproducibly simulates and analyses complex fluid flows. By seamlessly integrating advanced CFD into our design process we’ve eradicated SF6 usage for design.

Let’s talk numbers – this innovation means with each iteration we’re not only fine-tuning our designs for optimal performance but also significantly reducing our carbon footprint. This isn’t just a leap in design improvement; it’s a leap towards a healthier planet. It saves at least 9,000kg of CO2e per design, which is roughly the same as driving 3 laps around planet Earth! The result? A cleaner, greener design process.

Safety First: Optimal Design for Maximum Protection

This isn’t only about science; it’s about safety. Using CFD to simulate complex airflow patterns and chemical dispersion within fume cupboards gives us unparalleled insight into real-world scenarios. Our designs can be fine-tuned for optimal containment of different hazardous substances.

The search for ultimate containment drives continuous innovation in fume cupboard design. Containment ensures that hazardous substances are effectively isolated from the surrounding environment, safeguarding both researchers and the integrity of experimental results. It minimises the risk of exposure, preventing potential health hazards and maintaining regulatory compliance. Excellent containment enhances overall laboratory productivity and contributes to a secure research environment.

There’s another bonus! Optimised design can deliver reduced energy consumption in many cases, which translates to not only immediate ecological benefits but also long-term energy cost savings.

This shows the concentration of contaminated air around 3 different designs of fume cupboard, meaning no prototypes were used. The rate at which the contaminant is cleared can be calculated as part of the CFD simulation.

Prototypes? Who Needs Them?

Remember the days of countless prototypes? Well, they’re history now at Clean Air. The ability to virtually experiment with different configurations not only accelerates design versions but also eliminates the need for physical prototypes. Not only does this save time, it cuts down on waste and energy consumption – a win for the environment and your budget!

Join the Sustainability Conversation

Our CFD-powered journey isn’t just about us, it’s about everyone. It’s about sparking a dialogue. As we enter the world of sustainable fume cupboard design, we’re inviting you – our clients and partners – to join us on this path to environmental responsibility.

So, here’s to a future where sustainability and innovation go hand in hand, creating fume cupboards that not only protect but also leave a lighter footprint on the planet. Let’s talk sustainability, one airflow simulation at a time.

Dr Andrew Manning CEng MIMechE

About The Author

Dr Andrew Manning CEng MIMechE - Research & Development Manager

Andy has a master’s degree in Marine Engineering from Newcastle University and a PhD from Northumbria University, graduating in 2022. He previously worked for the MoD in testing and inspection of HMS Queen Elizabeth during its construction and sea trials and was also an equipment specialist for chilled water and ventilation systems.

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