Environmental control units (ECUs) regulate environmental conditions in closed spaces. In the biotechnology industry, ECUs are a vital component of cleanrooms to control and monitor environmental variables to ensure they meet the parameters specified for the cleanroom environment. Some of these parameters may include flow rate, pressure, humidity, contaminants, and temperature. We will explore the specific biotech applications where ECUs offer environmental monitoring and control and the selection of units you can choose from for these applications.
Typical ECU Use Cases
Biotech facilities take many forms, each with its own unique requirements for environmental control. Here’s an overview of biotech applications that depend on environmental control units to maintain temperature and humidity:
- Pharmaceutical Manufacturing & Cleanrooms: Particulate control is a primary pharmaceutical production and processing consideration, given requirements for very low levels of contamination for pharmaceutical production processes. In addition to particulate control and monitoring, pharmaceutical manufacturing often requires strict temperature and humidity control. Preventing excess moisture and controlling temperature during all stages of pharmaceutical production ensure consistent chemical and physical reactions for milling, granulation, compounding, coating, drying, and other processes.
- Laboratories: ECU units monitor and control environments in cleanroom, commercial, and industrial laboratories. Lab ECUs manage cleanroom pressurization to prevent microorganisms from entering or spreading outside a specific area. Common applications include process isolators, mini-environments, positive-pressure cleanroom labs for sterile pharmaceutical containment, and negative-pressure cleanroom labs that handle dangerous bacteria and viruses.
- Fluid Bed Drying: Particles with sizes larger than 50 microns typically undergo fluidization and drying in fluid bed drying. The particles are subject to conditions that give them properties similar to a fluid and ECU units play a critical role in this process. ECUs provide air to fluid bed drying process tools and regulate humidity and dew point levels. Only under these finely controlled conditions can caplets, pills, and capsules be uniformly dried.
- Tablet Coating: This is a process where tablets moving on a bed are coated in heated air to facilitate solvent evaporation. As the tablets move, they are coated using vertical air suspension or perpendicular coating pan methods. An ECU is vital to pharmaceutical temperature monitoring during the coating process. ECUs help pharmaceutical companies research and develop recipes for tablet production with the optimal, FDA-approved amount of coating. ECUs are responsible for regulating temperatures and humidities, which can be adjusted as needed until the ideal result is achieved.
ECUs for the BioTech Industry
The following ECUs are suitable for biotech and medical industry applications:
- HEPAir® Cleanroom HVAC Units: HEPAir® systems provide stable control of temperature, humidity, pressure, and cleanliness for cleanroom applications. They can also work with standard fan filter units or be tailored with custom static pressure capabilities for panel or terminal HEPA filters. The HEPAir® system can control negative or positive pressure. Their modularity and easy relocation and installation make it ideal for soft-wall cleanrooms, process isolators, and other applications in the biotech industry.
- ArrayAir – Environmental Control Units: A portable solution for environmental control that can maintain the proper cleanliness, temperature, and humidity levels for cleanroom environments measuring up to 30 cubic feet, such as laboratory gloveboxes.
- IsolationAir® Contamination Control Systems: A solution that features onboard medical-grade HEPA filtration, air conditioning, UVC sterilization of the filter, and ductwork to convert a standard-sized patient care room into a positive or negative pressure environment for stable cleanliness, pressure, temperature, and HVAC humidity control. While its most common usage is to control infectious disease outbreaks, it can also extend surge capacity for institutions requiring more space for burn and trauma care. For the biotech industry, this system can be used in negative-pressure cleanroom bio-laboratories.
- Sterile Storage – Temperature & Humidity Controlled Cabinets: Stored inventory, equipment, and sterilized tools require sterile storage conditions. Medical facilities depend on rigorous sterilization, cleaning, and storage procedures to maintain compliance with regulatory standards, including using sterile storage with temperature and humidity control.
- AdvancAir® Custom Clean Room Air Conditioner: An advanced environmental control unit for cleanrooms offering increased capacity and performance in a compact design. AdvancAir® units are custom-built to your configurations and specifications. These ECUs can be used to control the environment of a room or be integrated with other equipment to control a process.
BioTech Environmental Control Units by Air Innovations
Environmental control units offer temperature and humidity control for various applications, including cleanrooms, industrial facilities, and commercial operations. The biotech industry depends on specifically designed ECUs to control and monitor contaminant levels in sensitive environments, as product integrity, strict sterilization, and hygiene are crucial to pharmaceutical processing, extending product shelf life, controlling R&D and sensitive experiments, and reducing the risk of infection in biomedical labs.
Air Innovations offers several cleanroom ECUs with humidity and temperature control and monitoring as well as HEPA, ULPA, or molecular filtration. We deliver custom solutions for various industries and strive to solve our clients’ problems with innovative solutions. Nearly a quarter of our team holds an engineering degree and undergoes cross-training to fully understand our product offerings, which allows us to deliver the best service to our customers. Our products are rigorously tested and validated to meet your needs and comply with industry standards like UL, CSA, and ANSI.
Contact us to speak with a member of our team about the ECU solution for your industry or application.
As a trusted provider of custom environmental control units, Air Innovations develops precise solutions for controlling dew point and humidity. While both of these factors relate to the amount of water in the air, they describe different weather-related phenomena and affect industrial processes in different ways. This article will discuss the differences between dew point vs relative humidity and why they’re important to various industries.
What is Dew Point?
Dew point is the temperature at which point the air is completely saturated with water vapor and can hold no more. Dew point will always be equal to or lower than the air temperature.
At the dew point, the water in the air condenses into dew or frost. At certain pressures, the water vapor in the air reaches an equilibrium with liquid water and condenses at the same pace that liquid water evaporates.
What is Relative Humidity?
Relative humidity (RH) is a measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air, expressed as a percentage. So, a relative humidity of 100% means that the air is fully saturated and cannot hold any more water vapor. Relative humidity is proportional to temperature, and changes as temperatures and pressure increase or decrease. This means that systems with stable temperatures and pressure will have stable relative humidity.
Dew Point vs Relative Humidity
As the dew point rises, more moisture is present in the air. Relative humidity, on the other hand, is the ratio between the current amount of water vapor in the air and the maximum amount that’s possible at that temperature. Both of these factors are important to take into account when identifying the optimal moisture content of a room.
In commercial and industrial environments, dew point and relative humidity control systems deliver several crucial benefits:
- Prevents condensation on cold surfaces, as well as the mold, corrosion, and deterioration that happens as a result of these conditions
- Prevents static electricity, wood shrinkage, and paint cracking that occur when relative humidity is too low
- Keeps relative humidity in the optimal range of 25-60% RH
Dew Point and Relative Humidity Control in Critical Industries
Regulating the relative humidity and dew point is essential for many industries. At Air Innovations, we design and build precise dew point and humidity control systems for industries that include semiconductors, military, pharmaceutical, and more. We are constantly innovating to create improved solutions tailored to specific industrial environments.
Examples of our technology at work:
- Aerospace OEMs: The aerospace industry manufactures delicate technological systems that must be properly maintained with industrial cooling systems and humidification controls. These systems must adhere to narrow temperature, humidity, and dew point requirements to prevent damage or corrosion to sensitive electronics.
- Semiconductor manufacturers: Humidity and climate control systems in this type of manufacturing facility must achieve critical tolerances for temperature and humidity, in both dry or trace moisture facilities and near-saturation environments. It is particularly essential that systems using outside air provide limited humidity fluctuation rates.
- Pharmaceutical packaging plants: These environments require systems that balance high evaporative loads and heat successfully. A humidity control system in this type of facility must consistently maintain high health and safety standards.
You can learn more about our industry-specific dew point and relative humidity control systems on our industry page.
Custom Environmental Control Units from Air Innovations
Dew point and relative humidity are critical factors to control for nearly any industry. Achieving and maintaining optimal amounts of water vapor in the air protects sensitive components from damage.
At Air Innovations, we develop environmental control units that accommodate your exact needs. Our team will work with you collaboratively to design a system that meets your cost, size, and efficiency requirements while adhering to all industry regulations. To learn more, contact our team today.