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Chemical fume hoods are designed to protect laboratory workers from hazardous airborne materials.

This protection depends on the containment, capture and removal of contaminants generated within the hood. Traditional hoods are energy intensive, as they require enough exhaust flow to achieve an average face velocity (AFV) of 100 feet per minute (fpm) through the opening. Additionally, safety is often compromised by missing, or improper, aerodynamic components.

Retrofitting traditional fume hoods enhances worker safety and reduces energy use in lab facilities without the high cost of replacing hoods and the associated disruption to lab activities. Most traditional fume hoods operate at an AFV of 100 fpm. However, many lack the energy efficient features of new fume hoods, which enable containment at lower energy consumption with the same level of face velocity. As an alternative to replacement, traditional fume hoods can now be upgraded using innovative technology that reduces energy consumption while providing containment matching that of high-performance hoods.

Our occupational health team has been working with our corporate sustainability team to deploy a program – initially in the USA – to modify existing fume hoods that are working at suboptimal levels. For a very affordable cost, these hoods, once retrofitted, will not only meet our safety and energy efficiency standards; they will also reduce energy costs by about 30 percent.

The combined upgrade system yields improved safety at any sash configuration, regardless of application, with containment performance that consistently matches that of new, high performance fume hoods. In addition, the ability to operate at a reduced exhaust flow while maintaining our face velocity requirements allows us to comply with existing standards of care and creates the potential for energy savings of 40 percent or more. At less than one quarter of the cost of replacement, the payback period is typically less than five years, while the life cycle of the fume hood is potentially increased by decades.