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Energy Efficient Clean Air APEX-5 Fume Cupboards for the University of Manchester

Fume Cupboards at University of Manchester

Contributing to its new £12m Chemistry Campus project, Clean Air has designed, manufactured, installed and commissioned 77 APEX-5 energy-efficient fume cupboards for the University of Manchester. These units feature next-generation technology and, along with six rear-mounted fume scrubbers, have been fitted in the new laboratories on floors 4 and 5 of the university’s refurbished Chemistry Building.

The University of Manchester hosts one of the largest Chemistry departments in the UK, and floor 6 of the seven-storey Chemistry Building already houses over 30 Clean Air fume cupboards installed since 2013. These reliable, high-performing units have proven ideal for the university’s needs, and it has chosen Clean Air for this latest fit-out.

The two upgraded floors will have a generous supply of light, bright, fume cupboards offering the students, academics and researchers using them excellent containment for a safe and productive operating environment.

Clean Air Delivered

APEX-5 Install

The APEX series fume cupboards have been designed in collaboration with scientists, students, academics, and operators. These end users told our designers they valued space within the internal chamber, and the team created the APEX-5 to offer a wider working area than a conventional twin-skin model. For example, the 1800mm wide unit has a wider internal chamber than a conventional 2000mm wide fume cupboard. It also has a generous working height and depth.

These energy-efficient Variable Air Volume (VAV) units have a glass fixed panel above the sliding sash, providing full-height viewing access into the internal chamber.

Containment Assurance with APEX-5

The curved radius profile entrance to the fume cupboard chamber gives excellent levels of containment. The unit can be operated at low volume flow rates down to 0.3m/s and the range has been tested to BS EN 14175 with outstanding results. The key Robustness of Containment Protection Factor (PFR) reading is 1,500,000 for an 1800mm wide version at 0.3m/s face velocity.

APEX-5 Fume Cupboards at University of Manchester
Coloured Coded Fume Cupboard at University of Manchester

Customising the Fume Cupboards for University of Manchester

The university has identified three separate functions the fume cupboards must perform, and Clean Air has colour-coded them for at-a-glance recognition.

The two-metre units with yellow top panels will house any processes requiring hydrofluoric acid. Because HF can etch glass, these fume cupboards have corrosion-resistant polycarbonate sashes.

Blue top panels indicate that the fume cupboard has a rear-mounted fume scrubber. The fume scrubber will neutralise any corrosive fumes, moist gases, and dust-laden air flows before they are discharged into the atmosphere. The grey top panels denote a regular 1500mm APEX-5 model with the excellent containment levels of a premium Clean Air fume cupboard.

VAV for UoM’s Sustainability Targets

The APEX-5 fume cupboards for this project are all designed with Variable Air Volume (VAV) and auto-sash technology. VAV systems reduce the amount of conditioned air pulled through the fume cupboards and exhausted to the atmosphere. This reduces the amount of heated or cooled air required to replace it, thus reducing energy usage.

An auto sash control system on every unit reduces any unnecessary airflow through the fume cupboard by automatically closing the sash when no user presence is detected. In combination, these two systems can reduce energy consumption by up to 70%, reducing carbon emissions and significantly lowering energy costs.

It is no coincidence that the University has demanded this technology. It is the first university in the world to have been recognised as a carbon literate organisation. It is working towards its zero carbon target and has pledged to make urgent reductions in the first five years. It is focused on reducing carbon emissions from a 2018 baseline of 54,000 tCO2 to at least 21,000 tCO2 by 2025.

Clean Air strives to become carbon neutral, achieving this with its Scope 1&2 emissions. Since we began measuring our carbon footprint in 2017, we have successfully reduced our emissions year on year, despite almost doubling our volume of business. You can learn more about our sustainability ethos by visiting our eco blog.

Energy Saving Auto-Sash at University of Manchester

Rear Mounted Fume Scrubber at University of Manchester

Fume Scrubbing Units

Six Clean Air rear-mounted fume scrubbers sit neatly behind their fume cupboards across the new labs. The packed bed wet scrubbers utilise both co-current and counter-current gas scrubbing technologies for full neutralising assurance.  In addition, the fume scrubber units have been independently tested by MCERTS-accredited personnel. These scrubbers’ efficiency surpassed 99.8% in tests across a range of contaminant gas concentrations which exceeded those encountered in normal fume cupboard operation.

These fume scrubbers also have an automated pH chemical dosing system to maintain the scrubbing liquor at optimum potency and an auto drain control system to drain away a set amount on a timed basis to replenish the liquor. The dosing systems have been designed to meet the requirements of this specific project – each system Clean Air supplies is bespoke to its application.

Vacuum Systems

With experience in vacuum systems honed on numerous projects, such as the University of Liverpool’s Regius Chair laboratory, and The Henry Royce Institute’s Hub Building, the Clean Air team delivered the vacuum systems for the fume cupboards.  Each fume cupboard benefits from Broen High-Vac controls. An integrated low-vac vacuum network, serviced by VacuuBrand vacuum pumps, was also designed and installed.

Vacuum System at University of Manchester
Polypropylene Acid Storage Cabinets

Polypropylene Acid Storage Cabinets

Clean Air supplied ventilated polypropylene acid under bench storage cabinets for this latest project. Polypropylene is corrosion-resistant and therefore ideal for storing strong acids and other chemicals.

The storage cabinets are connected to the extract system in the main header duct above the fume cupboard VAV dampers. This safeguard ensures the cabinet extract pressure will not be affected when the fume cupboard sashes are closed.

Clean Air also supplied the 90-minute fire-rated solvent storage cabinets.

What Our Team Has to Say…

“It’s always gratifying when a client comes back to us because our fume cupboards have done a great job and they found us professional and easy to work with. The Chemistry Building is something of an old friend – we have a large number of our units installed there which have been operating reliably and efficiently for many years.

“The University team were clear about what they wanted from their fume cupboard system: a safe operating environment for their personnel; minimal environmental impact; easy identification of the different unit functions; a wide range of services on the fume cupboards.

“We achieved everything we were asked for. In addition, we delivered it on time and to budget. Even when the project timescales slipped significantly, we adjusted our manufacture, installation, and commissioning schedules to accommodate all the revisions.

“The whole team is proud of what we achieved on this project, and it’s very satisfying to see it successfully completed and fully operational.”

Garry Butterworth, Operations Director, Clean Air