Fume hood conversions lead to energy efficiency, cost savings
In university laboratories, fume hoods help keep scientists, students, instructors, and researchers safe. Fume hoods protect lab workers from fumes, smoke, and hazardous chemical vapors that escape into the air while they work.
Many older fume hoods, however, run inefficiently, exhausting air at a much higher rate than necessary. Rather than replace the entire fume hood, which can be time-consuming and expensive, labs across the country have been conducting fume hood conversions instead. This smart solution saves time and money and allows for more efficient air flow as well as energy efficiency.
SMACNA members Ernest D. Menold Inc., Lester, Pa., and Keystone TAB Consulting LLC, Media, Pa., successfully converted 16 chemical fume hoods at Rider University’s Science and Technology Center in Lawrenceville, N.J. They upgraded the old low-efficiency/high-flow fume hoods into high-efficiency/low-flow hoods, saving energy and money along the way.
Fume hood facts
Materials used in Rider University’s Science and Technology Center fume hood conversion included:
- Fume hood conversion kits by Flow-Safe Inc., Denville, N.J.
- Custom stainless steel trim and edge treatments
- Yaskawa variable frequency drives
- Pneumatic control components
- Power transmission components
It’s not just the money they’re saving, it’s the pollutants, said Vince Del Vacchio, owner of Keystone TAB Consulting, who has performed many fume hood conversions. It’s not using less energy from just the hoods, but using less energy for everything.
The firms took on the challenge of completing the $390,000 project while working around the schedules of the students and researchers at the facility. The Science and Technology Center is open year round.
Ernest D. Menold Inc. converted the fume hoods and installed durable, high-efficiency variable frequency drives (VFDs) on the supply and return fans for the air-handling units.
After the conversion, Keystone TAB Consulting rebalanced the Science and Technology Center’s air flow and verified the operation of all the building automation system controls and repaired them as required. The conversion created a more energy efficient environment.
One advantage is the building’s better system performance and the clear energy savings. The owners’ tracking of energy usage indicates the building is using 32 percent less energy since the conversion. Based on the energy savings, the project will have a three-year return on their investment.
Another, important benefit is the new converted fume hoods make the Science Center laboratory safer and healthier to use for the building’s budding and experienced scientists.