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5 ways to make your fume cupboard more sustainable

By Dr Andrew Manning CEng MIMechE

In the current climate, we’re all constantly looking for ways to become more sustainable. The best time to do this is from the start of planning your new lab or checking out potential fume cupboards. So here are our top 5 tips on how to choose more sustainable fume cupboards. And you’ll be delighted to know most of them will save money in the long run!

1 – VAV Systems

A Variable Air Volume system adjusts the flow rate of the fume cupboard when the sash is closed. This can save up to 70% of the air leaving the lab saving you money. Check our calculations here!

The VAV systems work best when combined with a sash position sensor which helps the system adapt faster to an operator opening the fume cupboard, maximising their protection.

2 – Autosash

An Autosash works brilliantly with a VAV system to automatically close the sash when the operator is away from the fume cupboard. This helps get the maximum performance (and savings!) out of your VAV system.

If you worry that the sash closing will be inconvenient, we can also set it up to open again when someone walks up to the fume cupboard!

3 – Lower face velocities

By reducing the face velocity to 0.4m/s or 0.3m/s from 0.5m/s you can reduce the amount of air leaving the lab, in turn, this will improve the sustainability of your lab.

Obviously, by reducing the face velocity you may reduce the containment of the fume cupboard. So, make sure you consider what you will be using before making this choice.

4 – Reduce the sash height

Typically, our fume cupboards are designed to have a sash opening of 500mm, but by choosing a lower sash opening such as 400mm you can get the same face velocity, giving a nearly identical containment, for less volumetric flow rate.

In doing this you can still open the sash to the full opening whilst you load & set up equipment, then move the sash back down to the operating height. Just check out these images.

5 – Environmentally conscious testing

Type testing fume cupboards is damaging to the environment. The gas used for testing is SF6, which is the most potent greenhouse gas according to the International Panel on Climate Change. A type test releases 3t CO2e and an on-site test releases 1t. When planning your lab, consider if every single cupboard needs to be tested, or just every other one for example.

6 – This one’s a bonus – Choose a sustainable supply chain partner

At Clean Air we’ve been focused on reducing our carbon footprint and operational costs since 2017. In this time, we’ve halved our carbon emissions while doubling turnover. We prioritise sustainability by offering energy-efficient fume cupboard options and we’ve been working hard on an environmentally responsible alternative to SF6 testing. We’re world leaders in advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for fume cupboard design and testing. Ask us about it – we’re bursting to tell everyone!

If you have any questions or would like to know more on how to make your fume cupboards more sustainable, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team on 01204 572900 or sales@cleanairltd.co.uk.

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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