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Author Archives: Air Innovations

  1. HVAC 101: Heat Exchangers in Air Conditioners

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    Heat exchangers are an effective means of absorbing heat and then transferring it from a location where it isn’t wanted. They can use several mediums to facilitate thermal transfer, most commonly air and water, but also water glycol mixtures, or steam. The material, number, and shape of the heat exchanger’s tubes can also affect heat transfer.

    From air conditioners and heaters to refrigerators and industrial equipment, many devices rely on efficient and reliable heat exchangers. Exactly what is a heat exchanger, and what HVAC technologies do they support? This article will dive into these answers and more.

    Heat exchangers closeup

    What are Heat Exchangers and How Do They Work?

    Heat exchangers, or heat exchange systems, come in a wide variety of forms for different applications. They’re typically composed of tubes and fins that exchange heat between the refrigerant, or fluid, in the tubes and the ambient temperature, making it possible to absorb and reject heat.

    Heat exchangers are used to transfer heat between the indoor and outdoor air streams while keeping them physically separated as a means of cooling the indoor air. In addition, heat exchangers can also be used to heat indoor air. These systems are called heat pumps. Heat pumps reverse the flow of refrigerant and absorb heat from the outdoor environment and reject it to the indoor environment. For both cooling and heating, the heat exchanger is one of the central components of a boiler system or air conditioner.

    The following are the most common types of heat exchange units:

    • Tube and Fin
    • Shell and Tube
    • Braze plate


    Heat Exchangers in HVAC Systems/Air Conditioning

    In HVAC applications, heat exchange units absorb heat, which always flows from hot to cold. An air conditioning heat exchanger capitalizes on this principle by removing heat from an air supply using a series of coiled tubes carrying different types of fluids, gasses, and other mediums.

    In an evaporator heat exchanger, air circulates over tubes full of refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the air causing the liquid in the evaporator to change phase and evaporate. This removes the heat from the air left behind which then circulates into a living space. The now heated refrigerant turns into a gas and transfers heat to the condenser unit where heat is rejected into the air outside or in another space.

    A compressor/pump moves the refrigerant in a closed loop system to continually chill the internal air supply and remove the heated air. These heat exchangers are driven by the compressor. The heat exchangers transfer heat from the inside to the outside.

    Both the condenser (a hot heat exchanger) and the evaporator (a cool heat exchanger) are types of heat exchangers.

    There are also brazed plate, or coaxial, heat exchangers, which use water to absorb, move, and dissipate heat. Heat exchangers possess remarkable versatility, making them valuable across diverse applications. However, achieving efficient thermal energy transfer hinges on the meticulous design of heat exchange systems based on your application requirements.


    Main Benefits

    From internal climate controls to preventing equipment from overheating, efficient heat exchangers carry several benefits:

    • Less energy is required to cool or heat a structure
    • A more energy-efficient HVAC system
    • Facilitating the bulk of the heat exchange process
    • More efficient machine and motor operations

    Air Innovations’ Project Examples

    • Laser Machine – Semiconductor Etching Application: An Air Innovations heat exchanger controlled the heat emitted by a laser etching device. By moving heat away from the laser, the etching machine functioned more efficiently, making the microchip etching process more accurate.
    • Military Applications – Radar Systems: Our heat exchange units similarly cool down electronics that control military-grade radar systems. In such cases, the radar’s electronics will shut down if they reach a certain temperature, as a self-protection mechanism. By preventing the radar system from overheating, it ensures the military can continually keep essential components operable. Using a micro-channel coil type design, we were able to maintain more contact between the refrigerant and the tubes, which are made of small diameter and aluminum design. By maximizing surface area with more, smaller tubes, our heat exchanger removes thermal energy with maximum efficiency.


    Contact Air Innovations for Premium Environmental Control Solutions

    Air Innovations provides all design, testing, and manufacturing services required for efficient and reliable environmental control units and custom HVAC solutions. Our heat exchange units meet the precise tolerance windows required for high-quality environmental controls, and we can custom design heat exchange systems for a variety of equipment.

    To learn more about how heat exchangers facilitate the transfer of thermal energy and provide fine-tuned control of heated and cooled air, contact us and tell one of our dedicated service technicians about your heat exchange system needs.

  2. How to Regulate Your Cleanroom Space

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    Cleanroom factory workers

    Product manufacturing, research and development, and other applications in fields ranging from aerospace and semiconductors to pharmaceuticals require a sterile environment for safe operations. As such, cleanrooms are very important in these industries, helping maintain product integrity and limiting the presence of airborne contaminants.

    Standard HVAC equipment is insufficient for managing cleanroom air conditions because it can’t reach the tight temperature and humidity requirements and doesn’t contain the HEPA filters needed to maintain such an environment. That’s why Air Innovations creates customizable environmental process control systems for critical cleanroom applications.

    What Are Cleanrooms?

    For industries in which even small particles can have a detrimental effect on products or operations, cleanrooms are an optimal solution. These highly regulated, contaminant-free spaces are designed and constructed to ensure safe product research, manufacturing, assembly, testing, and packaging. To be considered a cleanroom, a space needs to meet the minimum cleanroom classification standards set forth in FED Std 209E or ISO14644-1. Cleanrooms can be designed to meet various classes ranging from ISO 1, which provides the most sterile environment, to ISO 9, with less strict air quality and cleanliness requirements.

    Air Innovations’ HVAC Solutions for Cleanrooms

    Each industry has its own specifications and regulatory requirements for cleanroom HVAC systems. At Air Innovations, we operate a dedicated HVAC division to create systems specifically for cleanrooms and related critical applications. We develop and manufacture both standardized and customizable solutions for complete integration into cleanroom modular environmental systems, giving you the size, functionality, and system features you need for your specific application. Also, our certified systems can be designed to comply with ANSI, CE, CSA, ETL, MIL-STD, SEMI, and UL performance and safety standards.

    Our cleanroom HVAC systems can effectively accomplish the following:

    • Eliminate open drive or belt-driven parts that could otherwise produce particles and contaminate the air stream
    • Create smaller footprints to save valuable floor space
    • Manage cleanroom humidity and temperature with precision
    • Dehumidify your cleanroom
    • Use sealants that are non-out-gassing
    • Combat HEPA filter losses through high-static blower integration

    Maintaining a Cleanroom Environment

    To effectively maintain your cleanroom environment, there are certain steps you should follow:

    • Develop proper cleaning routines. Clean your HVAC system from top to bottom to decrease the likelihood of contamination. Depending on its ISO class, the appropriate cleaning frequency for your system might be daily, weekly, or monthly.
    • Schedule regular air system maintenance. Conducting an air sampling and checking temperature, humidity, and pressure readings regularly will help ensure proper system performance.
    • Use the right cleaning materials. Incorrect cleaning materials can introduce corrosion-causing contaminants. Instead, use non-ionic, non-foaming, neutral solvents and chemicals coupled with woven rags or wipes of polyester construction. Mopping systems equipped with dirty-water separation are also helpful.
    • Train your employees. Teach employees about the proper cleaning protocol, as well as the standard dress code of protective clothing to wear during cleaning.

    Before Requesting a Cleanroom HVAC System

    Prior to consulting our team for your ideal HVAC system, it’s important to determine certain key details about your cleanroom:

    • Size of your cleanroom
    • Heat load (the total amount of heat exuded by employees and equipment)
    • Required temperature, humidity, and dew point specifications
    • Desired air pressure and air supply source

    cleanroom banner

    Partner With Air Innovations for Environmental Process Control Solutions in Cleanrooms

    When a sterile environment is crucial, cleanrooms prevent contamination that would otherwise compromise the safety and effectiveness of sensitive products. Regulating your cleanroom’s temperature, humidity, pressurization, filtration, airflow and rate requires high-performance HVAC systems that meet your needs and regulatory requirements.

    Air Innovations has a quarter-century of expertise in design, manufacturing, and testing environmental process control systems for various industries. Whether you need a fully customized cleanroom HVAC system or you’d like to integrate an Air Innovations solution into your existing equipment, contact us today and we’ll assist you in finding the right system to regulate your cleanroom.

  3. Cleanroom vs. Controlled Environment

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    Deciding between a clean room vs. a controlled environment requires a thorough understanding of your application and facility requirements. Some operations even use both, reserving a cleanroom for certain quality controls and more sensitive tasks. Read on to learn what controlled and cleanroom environments are, and what types of applications each is best suited for.

    Cleanroom Aerospace

    What is a Controlled Environment?

    Controlled environments are spaces that control several local factors by adjusting resource inputs and outputs. Generally, the functions regulated by a controlled environment include the following:

    • Temperature
    • Humidity
    • Light spectrum and intensity
    • Airflow
    • Carbon dioxide and oxygen levels

    Controlled environments don’t need to meet particle filtration thresholds like cleanrooms do. Instead, their certification requirements are based on factors such as temperature and humidity controls. These must be periodically measured and logged, so the environmental controls can be adjusted accordingly.

    If your requirements primarily revolve around temperature and/or humidity control, without the need for strict cleanliness or filtration, a controlled environment will meet your needs.

    Common Applications for Controlled Environments

    Controlled environments are used in numerous industries:

    • Life science laboratories
    • Engineering labs
    • Laser labs
    • High-energy physics facilities
    • Quality labs
    • Grow Rooms (e.g. greenhouses, indoor farming, cannabis)
    • Clean manufacturing rooms
    • Pharmacies
    • Quarantine sections of hospitals

    For the latter, the most important controls include humidity, airflow, temperature, and lighting. Controlling humidity and air exchanges can dramatically reduce the transmission of pathogens.

    What is a Cleanroom?

    Cleanrooms are a specialized type of controlled environment. They require more stringent controls on temperature and pressure, and their local air supply must be kept separate from the outside environment. Cleanrooms filter contaminants at the microscopic level, maintaining air purity with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration system.

    Cleanrooms are required to meet ISO 14644-1 or FED Std 209E standards, which takes into account both the cleanliness and the number of air changes per hour. This is necessary to maintain precise filtration and particulate controls.

    To certify that one of these classifications is being met, a room needs to be particle tested and have continual measurements of air pressure and filtration.

    Some industries and applications will have additional cleanroom requirements, such as ASTM E2352 for Aerospace cleanrooms. Semiconductor companies require cleanrooms rated at Class 5 or lower, along with their own “SEMI” industry standards. Pharmaceutical and medical industries have other specific cleanroom standards.

    Common Applications for Cleanrooms

    What a cleanroom is used for depends on how sanitary a lab or other setting must be for a given application. Highly valuable equipment depends on accurate cleanroom controls, which are set by a classification system outlined in ISO-5/class 100 and ISO-6/class 1000.

    There are also industry-specific cleanroom standards. The most common cleanroom types are as follows:

    • Semiconductor manufacturing cleanrooms
    • Pharmaceutical manufacturing cleanrooms
    • Research and development cleanrooms
    • Laser and optics cleanrooms

    Semiconductor cleanroom

    Cleanroom or Controlled Environment: Which Option is Right?

    When deciding between a cleanroom and a controlled environment, the primary considerations are (A) the application and (B) the industry involved.

    Generally, when a project requires environmental controls for stable temperatures and humidity, a controlled environment is what you need. If the application requires contaminant levels to be less than a specific threshold, a cleanroom is necessary.

    This commonly applies to industries using highly sensitive electronics or purified chemical substances. The most common industries and applications for cleanrooms include the following:

    • Semiconductors & Microelectronics
    • Military & Aerospace
    • Hospital isolation rooms
    • Biotech
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Medical device manufacturing

    For most other laboratory environments, controlled environments are usually acceptable. For instance, a process control laboratory working with chrome plating depends on stable environmental controls, but not at the level of a cleanroom.

    Other applications for controlled environments include the following:

    • Biotech
    • Mining
    • Agricultural research and food production

    Facilities sometimes use both a controlled environment and cleanroom. For example, a laboratory might perform quality control testing in a certified ISO class 8 cleanroom but store the materials in a controlled environment if they don’t need to be kept at strict levels of cleanliness.

    Contact Air Innovations for Cleanroom Environmental Control Solutions

    Deciding between a controlled environment vs. a cleanroom is not difficult once you’ve clarified your application. For cleanrooms, several industries have specific cleanroom standards, in addition to fundamental national and international standards. Contact Air Innovations to learn more about cleanroom air purification. Our air filtration engineers have continually advanced cleanroom HVAC systems, including our customizable HEPAir and AdvancAir systems. The Air Innovation product line is built for a wide range of industrial, laboratory, and specialized uses, and our knowledgeable service technicians are standing by to assist you.

  4. Dew Point vs Relative Humidity

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    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

    Humidity Dashboard

    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.