Open Ceiling in Research Labs – A Fad or A Useful Feature
Fume Hood by itself keeps the user and the lab environment safe by reducing airborne contaminant hazards. However, there are additional accessories available to enhance the safety and convenience of the users. These accessories must be carefully chosen and specified while indenting for a new fume hood. Sometimes it is possible to add a few of these accessories post-installation.
1. Airflow Monitor
The airflow monitor is at the top of the list, as it displays the safe/ unsafe status of an operating fume hood in real-time. AFM monitors (also displays) the face velocity, and gives audiovisual alarms in case it is out of range. A user must thoroughly understand the working of AFM. She should be able to take corrective actions when prompted, never overriding its commands. Modern AFMs also act as a controller that helps adjust the airflow rate continuously. Such AFMs also communicate with the room environment control system and help it take appropriate actions. Some even log data and events for future reference. AFMs require routine testing, calibration, and certification.
2. Electrical Sockets
These provide for safe electrical supply to equipment and instrumentation. Needless to mention they must be as per the standards to ensure safety and located outside the fume hood inner chamber. Depending on the work, it may be prudent to specify Industrial/ Vapor proof /Flame Proof fittings. They must be adequate in number.
2. Electrical Sockets
These fittings ensure the safe disposal of these services. Their operating control must be within easy reach. They must be free of corrosion, safe, able to deliver at the precise pressure and flow rates. They must adhere to international standards and must be certified. Compromising the quality of these accessories could be detrimental to users.
3. Gas/ Vacuum/ Water Valves & Taps
These are also known as open plenums technically. All the structural, ducting, and MEP members are left exposed to the eye, either with their normal colors or painted. The roof is painted for an aesthetic sense. Open ceilings are gaining popularity in almost every field. The open architecture gives the lab an industrial look and with increased height, the occupants feel more comfortable.
4. Cup Sinks, Sinks
These sinks help safe disposal of waste by the users. These usually come seamlessly molded with modern worktops and must have trap below the sink to avoid choking of drain lines.
5. Equipment Holding Grid/ Scaffold/ Monkey grid
The Grid helps safely hold and secure equipment setups inside the hood.
6. Spill Containing Worktops
These have a dished work area (to contain spills) and a well-profiled edge to ensure an aerodynamic steady flow.
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7. Chemical/ Solvent/ Acid storage cabinet
Specially lined cabinets below the worktop could be used for storing acids/ base. Ventilated base cabinets could be used for storing chemicals. Even under bench cabinets for flammable material storage with time ratings are available. These must be specified and meet international standards.
8. Temperature Monitors/ controllers
They help remote monitoring of the temperature, as the experiment is progressing. Controllers can cut off the electrical supply of heating mantle/oil bath, once the desired temperature is reached.
9. Special Purpose Sash
If you intend to use a lot of hydrofluoric acid, then a special purpose sash needs to be used.
10. Sash Stoppers
The sash stoppers restrict the movement of the Sash within desired limits.
10. Automatic Sash Controllers
These controllers automatically close down the Sash when the user is away. They are driven by proximity sensors. Thus, maintaining the fume hood under safe working conditions, irrespective of user attention.
11. Automatic Fire Extinguisher
These are useful to extinguish the fires within the fume hoods, especially for unattended reactions.