Category Archive: Knowledge Base

Negative and Positive Pressure Room Requirements 101

Negative or positive pressure rooms are often necessary to prevent contamination and maintain a climate-controlled environment in various applications. While these rooms are somewhat similar, there are certain differences between their designs and requirements. Here we’ll give an overview of both of these types of environments, including their intended applications and design requirements.

Negative Pressure Rooms

Negative pressure rooms have air pressure that is lower than the external air pressure. Negative pressure is achieved through the use of an exhaust system that frequently includes a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter connected to a sealed room. These rooms can trap potentially dangerous particles to prevent cross-contamination in external air. This is why they’re often used to isolate infected patients while keeping people outside of the room consistently safe. 

Design Requirements

Negative pressure rooms are designed to contain airborne infections. To do so, there are various design requirements that these rooms must follow, which are outlined by CDC Guidelines, ASHRAE standards, and Healthcare Design Construction Guidelines. As summarized in these guidelines:

  • Negative pressure rooms must undergo at least 12 total room air changes every hour.
  • They need to maintain a negative pressure differential of at least 0.02’’.
  • Exhaust from these rooms and any connected anterooms or toilet rooms needs to travel directly outdoors with no chance of contaminating exhaust from other spaces. 
  • If an anteroom is included in the setup, airflow needs to travel into the anteroom via the corridor. From there, it should be channeled into the patient isolation room.
  • The quantity of air exhaust needs to be higher than the supply airflow to maintain a consistent pressure differential.
  • The exhaust grille must be located in the ceiling and near the head of the bed.
  • All exhaust air must be discharged through a HEPA filter if the fan is below the roof line.

Misconceptions About Negative Pressure Rooms

One potentially dangerous misconception about negative pressure rooms is that medical personnel are safer when performing aerosol-generating procedures on patients in these rooms. This is due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that these procedures be performed in isolation rooms. However, negative pressure rooms do little to protect individuals inside the room. Their main purpose is to help protect people outside of the room by keeping aerosols and other particles within the room.

Positive Pressure Rooms

A positive pressure room is intended to protect patients from infectious diseases if they’re immunocompromised. While this type of room is somewhat similar in concept to negative pressure rooms, it features certain differences in its function and design. Positive pressure rooms contain a higher pressure in the containment area than the external environment, preventing air from leaving the room and circulating back inside. This prevents occupants in the room from being exposed to any outside contaminants, including potentially harmful particles and germs. 

Design Requirements

Positive pressure rooms must follow various design requirements to keep patients protected from outside contaminants. Included in these requirements are the following elements:

  • Positive pressure rooms require at least 12 air changes every hour.
  • They must maintain a minimum positive pressure differential of 0.01’’.
  • If anterooms are used, the airflow must travel to the anteroom from the patient room and then into the adjacent corridor.
  • Normally, a 150 to 200 CFM airflow difference is sufficient for maintaining the ideal pressure differential in these rooms.
  • HEPA filters are required to supply clean air. These filters are normally located at the room’s supply terminals or the main air-handling unit.
  • Airflow to the room needs to stay at a constant volume for consistent ventilation.

Create Custom Positive and Negative Pressure Environments with Air Innovations

IsolationAir® Portable Contamination Control System

If you require flexible positive or negative pressure rooms for your application, Air Innovations has the expertise and solutions you need. Our IsolationAir® unit offers a portable contamination control system that can efficiently convert standard-sized patient rooms into either positive or negative pressure environments. Some of the features of our IsolationAir® system include ductwork, UV sterilization, and HEPA filtration connections. The system also allows for temperature control, isolating the room from the central HVAC system.

For more information about our systems, contact us today. You can also request a quote to get started on a custom solution for your project.

How to Create Negative Pressure in a Hospital Room?

Negative pressure rooms control airborne pathogens by exhausting contaminated air from the building while preventing the air from leaking into other parts of the facility. These rooms are a necessity to maintain the safety of guests, patients, and hospital staff.

At Air Innovations, Inc., our expertise in negative pressure HVAC systems will ensure that your hospital’s negative pressure rooms comply with industry standards.

 

What Are Negative Pressure Rooms?

Negative pressure rooms have inside air pressure that is lower than the air pressure outside of the room. This serves to prevent contaminated air from exiting the room while allowing non-contaminated air to flow into it. Contaminated air flows through a controlled HVAC system, where the air is purified using specialized filters before it exhausts from the facility. 

HEPA filtration

 

Creating Negative Air Pressure in a Hospital Room

Negative pressure rooms are crucial in hospital settings as they isolate airborne diseases like COVID-19, SARS, and MERS from the rest of the facility and prevent them from spreading to patients, staff, and guests. A negative pressure room requires a dedicated space, where a barrier will keep the room as air-tight as possible. For isolation rooms in more open areas, a heavy plastic curtain can block air circulation. If the area has a door, it is important to block any gaps to create a tight seal. 

When establishing an isolation room in a hospital, the HVAC system will require adjustments to ensure the room has a continuous inflow of fresh air. The contaminated air must be forced out through exhaust vents with a filtration system to purify the air before it exits the facility. An existing HVAC system may be suitable, or a portable contamination system can be used to focus on a particular area.

 

Types of Negative Pressure Isolation Rooms

There are two classes of negative pressure isolation rooms, class N and class Q. A class N room isolates airborne diseases within a room to protect the facility from exposure. They are typically near the entrance of an inpatient ward to prevent the spread of the disease during patient transport.

Class Q rooms also isolate airborne diseases but implement stricter safeguards. Some primary features include an anteroom, self-closing doors, a private restroom to keep the isolation room sealed, and a ventilation system that prevents exhausted air from re-entering the isolation room. Class Q rooms also feature a monitoring system that alerts staff if the pressure changes. These are all crucial features to ensure optimal infection control. 

 

Hospital Spaces to Negatively Pressurize

Various hospital spaces should be negatively pressurized for safety and compliance. According to ANSI/ASHE/ASHRAE standard 170-2017 of the 2018 FGI guidelines, negative pressure spaces include but are not limited to:

  • Isolation Rooms for Airborne Infections
  • Autopsy Rooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Public Waiting Areas and Radiology Department Waiting Areas
  • Emergency Department Decontamination Bays
  • Various Laboratory Work Areas
  • Triage
  • Janitor’s Closets
  • Sterile Processing Areas and Soiled Decontamination Areas
  • Soiled Workrooms and Holding Rooms
  • Soiled Linen Sorting and Storage Areas

General patient examination, X-ray, and nursery areas typically do not require negative pressure rooms.

 

Testing and Monitoring Room Pressure

Monitoring for consistent low pressure in an isolation room is vital to ensure the safety of a facility. While a tissue or smoke capsule can confirm if the room is pressurized, modern equipment provides continuous monitoring of the room’s pressure. Electronic monitoring devices can be placed inside the isolation room and outside to trigger an alarm when the pressure reaches a set threshold. Regular inspection is necessary to ensure the devices are not contaminated or broken.

 


Contact the Experts at Air Innovations for Custom HVAC Systems

Negative pressure rooms are vital to controlling airborne diseases in a hospital facility. When setting up a negative pressure room, the experts at Air Innovations, Inc. can create a custom HVAC solution for your facility.IsolationAir unit

Air Innovations offers specialty environment control units to meet the needs of various critical applications. Our IsolationAir® portable contamination systems deploy quickly to isolate a sterile environment and prevent cross-contamination. These systems come equipped with UV sterilization, HEPA filtration, and ductwork connections. Whether you need to turn a room into a negative or positive pressure environment, our IsolationAir® system offers the ideal solution.

IsolationAir Datasheet

 

Our expertise will ensure your isolation rooms are compliant with ASHRAE, AIA, and CDC guidelines to protect patients, staff, and guests. Contact us to speak with a representative or request a quote to learn more.

 

 

A Guide to Building Hospital Isolation Rooms

At Air Innovations, we’ve designed, manufactured, and tested custom environmental control solutions for OEMs and non-OEMs for over 30 years. This extensive experience provides us with the knowledge and skills needed to deliver appropriate systems for a wide range of industries. One of the key markets we serve is the healthcare industry. Healthcare professionals know they can rely on us for products that keep their patients and personnel safe and healthy, such as hospital isolation room systems.

Below, we provide an overview of hospital isolation rooms, outlining the types available and key considerations to keep in mind when building one for a healthcare facility. Additionally, we highlight the products we offer that can be used to help build isolation rooms.


Key considerations to have when building an isolation room


WHAT ARE HOSPITAL ISOLATION ROOMS?

In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, controlling the spread of infectious diseases is critical to keeping patients, personnel, and visitors safe and healthy. An important element of a comprehensive infection control strategy is the use of isolation rooms. These specialized rooms are designed to decrease the likelihood of cross-infection among people within the facility by controlling the flow of air within the room to reduce airborne infectious particle levels. They can achieve this goal in a number of ways, including by controlling the quantity and quality of intake or exhaust air, maintaining an air pressure differential between adjoining areas, directing airflow in a specific pattern, diluting room air with large volumes of clean air, and cleaning the air with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

A patient in our hospital isolation room with doctor and nurse

TYPES OF HOSPITAL ISOLATION ROOMS

Isolation facilities can be configured in several ways, including the following:

    • Standard Rooms. These rooms utilize standard room (neutral) air pressure levels. They have normal HVAC systems and may or may not have a clinical handwash sink, en suite shower and toilet facilities, and a self-closing door. While they are generally used for patient contact isolation applications, they can be used for normal patient care when isolation is not required.
    • Airborne Infection Isolation (AII) Rooms. These rooms—also referred to as infectious isolation rooms—utilize a negative-pressure differential. They have lower pressure levels than adjacent rooms so air will rush inward rather than outward when the room is opened. This design prevents airborne infectious particles from escaping into other areas of the healthcare facility. They are employed as single-occupancy rooms to isolate patients with suspected or confirmed airborne-transmissible infections.

Airborne Infection Isolation (AII) Rooms

    • Protective Environment (PE) Rooms. These rooms utilize a positive-pressure differential. They have higher pressure levels than adjacent rooms so air will rush outward rather than inward when the room is opened. This design prevents airborne infectious particles from entering the room from other areas of the facility. They are utilized to protect immune-compromised patients from airborne-transmissible infections.

Protective Environment (PE) Rooms

KEY CONSIDERATIONS WHEN BUILDING AN ISOLATION ROOM

Due to their critical function, isolation rooms must be designed and constructed carefully. Otherwise, there is an increased risk of cross-contamination between patients, personnel, and visitors. While there are many factors to consider to ensure an isolation room will work properly, some of the key ones include air changes per hour, HVAC, pressure control, temperature control, and supplemental controls.

AIR CHANGES PER HOUR (ACH)

As per the infectious disease control guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), isolation rooms should have a minimum of 12 air changes per hour using medical-grade HEPA filters. These filtration units are designed to remove 99.97% of airborne particles that are ≥0.3 µm in diameter. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) further specifies that a minimum of 12 air changes per hour are required for new facility constructions and renovations, while a minimum of six air changes per hour are required for existing facilities.

HVAC

HVAC systems play a vital role in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. In addition to regulating airflow and maintaining comfortable temperature levels, they also help minimize the transmission of airborne diseases. When properly implemented, they can prevent the spread of contaminant-laden air through air purification, improved ventilation, and airflow control.

  • Standard rooms do not require a specialized HVAC system.
  • Negative pressure rooms require dedicated supply and exhaust systems separate from the building’s systems that do not permit any return air. A HEPA filtration should be connected to the supply system if the room will be used for isolating immunosuppressed patients. Additionally, the air conditioning system should be connected to an emergency power supply to prevent depressurization in the event of power loss.
  • Positive pressure rooms can share an air system with the building as long as the minimum outdoor air requirements meet local requirements and restrictions. However, the supply air inlet should be fitted with a HEPA filter.

PRESSURE CONTROL

The recommended minimum differential pressure between the isolation room and adjacent rooms is 2.5 Pa (0.01” water gauge) for both negative and positive rooms.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL

Isolation rooms must be appropriately heated or cooled to maintain an average temperature of 75°F.

SUPPLEMENTAL CONTROLS

Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation can be used as a supplemental air-purifying measure.


ACHIEVING CONTAMINATION CONTROL WITH AIR INNOVATIONS

We offer a broad selection of products that help control contamination in healthcare facilities. For example, our IsolationAir® portable contamination systems can be used to turn standard-sized rooms into negative-pressure or positive-pressure isolation areas for patient care or containment in as little as 30 minutes. They quickly and easily create a sterile environment in an isolated space that prevents cross-contamination, ensuring patients and personnel are better protected against infectious diseases. IsolationAir systems have several key features:

Standard hospital contamination control systems

  • Pressure control to create a positive or negative pressure differential between the room and adjoining spaces
  • HEPA filtration unit to capture and remove airborne contaminants
  • UV-C sterilization unit to deactivate viruses and bacteria that have accumulated on the HEPA filter
  • Heating/cooling to keep patients comfortable within the space

The system meets all the relevant guidelines outlined by the following organizations:

  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

Download our IsolationAir brochure for more details about our line of standard hospital contamination control systems.

CONTACT US FOR YOUR ISOLATION ROOM ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL NEEDS

In medical facilities, dedicated isolation rooms are a critical tool for controlling airborne disease transmission. These spaces can be expensive to build and often require extensive airflow control measures to prevent cross-contamination with the rest of the facility effectively.

At Air Innovations, we understand the importance of airborne disease control in the healthcare industry. Our CDC, AIA, and ASHRAE-compliant IsolationAir® contamination control systems help hospitals, extended care facilities, and emergency preparedness centers improve their surge response capabilities and infectious disease preparedness. The portable units can be quickly and conveniently deployed to convert standard rooms into isolated environments for a number of applications, saving healthcare facilities time and money.

To learn more about our environmental control solutions and how they can benefit healthcare facilities, contact us today.

ULPA vs. HEPA Filters | Air Filter Selection Guide

All heating and cooling air duct systems naturally collect dust and contaminants. Clean rooms, such as those used in the electronics, pharmaceutical, and medical industries, require a controlled environment free of dust, airborne particles, and other contaminants. Ultra low particulate air (ULPA) filters and high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are used in commercial air filtration systems to trap extremely small particulate contaminants.

Hepa filter in hvac cleanroom

 

ULPA vs. HEPA Filter

Ulpa vs. hepa filter

ULPA and HEPA filters share many characteristics but differ in some crucial aspects. Both filters use layers of dense fibers to create a fine mesh filter that removes contaminants as air is forced through them. Both HEPA and ULPA filters use a combination of three main methods to trap contaminants: diffusion, interception, and inertial impaction.

ULPA filters trap more and smaller particulate matter than HEPA filters. ULPA filters are 99.999% effective at removing submicron particulate matter of 0.12-micron diameter or larger, while HEPA filters are 99.97% effective for eliminating particulate matter of 0.3-micron diameter or larger. HEPA filters can be combined with pre filters to trap larger particles before they come into contact with the main filter.

The higher efficiency rating of the ULPA filter is due to the increased density of the filter medium, which allows airflow up to 50% lower than HEPA filters and requires more power to move air. HEPA filters have a lifespan of up to ten years, whereas the typical life cycle of an ULPA filter ranges from five to eight years. Choosing the right filter for your application depends on containment regulations and standards in your facility.

 

Which Air Filter is Better – ULPA or HEPA?

Which air filter is better – ulpa or hepa

Filter manufacturers often stress the superior efficiency rating of ULPA filters when compared to HEPA filters. While ULPA filters trap more and smaller particulates, they are usually less effective at reducing the overall particulate concentration in a typical room than the same air filtration system equipped with HEPA filters. This is due to reduced airflow caused by the dense filter material of ULPA filters. ULPA filters typically pass 20-50% less air than HEPA filters, which results in the room having fewer air changes per hour.

There are a variety of HEPA filters available, some of which are more complex than others. These complex HEPA filters exceed the typical MERV scale of rating, making them the most effective and popular option for many industries.

 

Choosing the Best Air Filter for Your Application

Choosing the best air filter for your application

Determining the best filter for your application requires a careful analysis of your needs and any containment regulations for your facility, including the minimum number of air changes required per hour. HEPA and ULPA filters are designed for use in a variety of applications, including industrial vacuum cleaners to remove asbestos, removing toner dust from office equipment, preventing the spread of airborne bacteria in surgical operating rooms, and other crucial medical air filtration applications.

Industries such as pharmaceutical, photography, electronics, and more all rely on air filtration systems to protect their equipment and keep people safe. Understanding the requirements of your application and the level of effectiveness needed will help you choose the right air filter for your needs.

 


Air Filtration Solutions from Air Innovations

At Air Innovations, we are experts at designing and building air filtration systems for applications that are difficult to address with standard HVAC equipment. We specialize in creating custom solutions that meet containment regulations and any other standards required for your application. Our mission is to design and build an air filtration system that you can rely on to meet the precise tolerances and parameters you need. To request a quote for your application or to learn more about our air filtration systems, contact us today.

Air filtration solutions from air innovations

Micro Environments: Delivering Comfort And Control In Mission Critical Scenarios

There are a handful of professions serving mission-critical functions wherein personal comfort plays a vital role in productivity. From command centers to 911 call centers, having control over heating and air conditioning, as well as desk-lift functions, can make a difference when it matters most. In addition to providing control over environmental factors, Air Innovations has also prioritized making the functionality of the desktop management system as efficient and customizable as possible.

 

What Do We Mean By Micro Environment?

One person might feel most energized at a standing desk in a brisk 65℉ room. Another professional sharing the same office might focus best sitting down in a warmer space. Ensuring comfort is necessary when attention to detail and quick decision making is critical to the job function. At Air Innovations, a “Micro Environment” is a desktop management control system that delivers this level of custom comfort.

 

Climate Control

At the heart of a Micro Environment system is the ability to control the temperature around a desk. Users can adjust the speed of the cooling fan and regulate the output of the forced air heating. In addition, our Micro Environment units enable users to adjust the louvers to direct air to their liking.

 

Moreover, the air circulating around the desk first passes through a filter that can trap airborne contaminants such as dust mites, carpet fibers, and mold spores.

 

Efficiency

Air Innovations’ Micro Environments systems were designed with efficiency in mind. The goal is to provide professionals with everything they might need—at their fingertips—to maximize productivity.

 

Controlling the functions of a Micro Environment unit, including climate, lighting, and integrated desk-leg lift, which starts with a color touch screen. The consoles include a USB charger, light, and auxiliary power source to plug in a mobile phone charger or radio reducing the need to rummage around for cords and outlets. The digital control console is compatible with any type of office desk.

 

Users may also take advantage of the motion sensor that is triggered after 10 minutes of no activity, which turns off any lights and deactivates the fan and heat. Once the person returns, the system activates and returns the fan, heater and task light to the last setting.

 

The controls box  is made of a commercial-grade powder-coated, lightweight aluminum, taking up a small footprint on any office desks. One added benefit is that all of these accessories require the lowest power usage of any Micro Environment on the market.

 

Customization

Efficiency is one thing; being able to customize one’s office environment is what takes personal comfort and productivity to a new level. With our solutions, customization begins at installation.

 

The controller is not fixed to the console so the user is able to place it either above or below the desk. The lighting is dimmable to provide professionals with options depending upon the time of day or their particular needs at any given moment. The desk-leg lifts can be adjusted to several sitting or standing levels to accommodate user preferences and heights.

 

The ability to customize the main screen with a personal picture, eliminate or add apps, a memory function for multiple users, field upgradable software, a white noise machine and auxiliary input jack are additional features that round out the Air Innovations micro environment systems.

Cleanroom: A Quick Guide to Classifications, Design, and Standards

Cleanrooms are integral to countless operations around the world. Scientists, manufacturers, and a bevy of other industry professionals rely on these rooms to mitigate the risk of contamination in products or processes. It’s important to understand the different cleanroom classifications and guidelines behind how these rooms are constructed and utilized to determine which is the best fit for your application.

We’ve outlined how cleanrooms are classified and designed below. The trained staff at Air Innovations will work with your cleanroom design and specifications to provide the optimal Environmental Control Unit (ECU) for your cleanroom.

Air innovations cleanroom air conditioning

Cleanrooms—All You Need to Know

Cleanrooms are man-made, controlled environments. These spaces are designed and built specifically for use in industries which rely on extreme cleanliness and predictability. Manufacturing and scientific research applications regularly utilize cleanrooms to perform daily tasks and help with specialized projects. Virtually any industry involving work that could be negatively impacted by small particles necessitates the use of cleanrooms.

A well-conditioned cleanroom offers researchers and other workers the opportunity to perform tasks in an environment with low levels of pollutants. That means that common problems like dust, chemical vapors, and airborne microbes can’t interfere with the work at hand.

Cleanroom classification Cleanroom - airbone microbes

Cleanroom Classifications

Cleanrooms are subject to a range of classifications based on their capabilities and intended applications. The functionality of the cleanroom and the quality of air it facilitates will largely determine the classification.

Cleanroom classifications measures how many particles of a certain size (over 0.5 mm) exist within one cubic foot of air inside the room. FED-STD-209E regulations classified cleanrooms based on the allowable particles contained within each cubic meter of air in conjunction with the size of said particles. These regulations are still referenced frequently when determining cleanroom requirements but have largely been replaced by the stricter International Standards Organization (ISO) classifications.

ISO 14644-1:2015 Cleanrooms and Associated Controlled Environments ranks cleanrooms in terms from function on a scale from 1–9. A cleanroom classified as ISO Class 1 exemplifies the highest possible cleanliness and air purity standards, while an ISO Class 9 would have the lowest requirements. The following table demonstrates the exacting requirements for each cleanroom classification:

ISO 14644-1: 2015 FED_STD-209E

Maximum Allowable Particles in One Cubic Meter of Air

Size of Particles

> 0.1 micron > 0.2 micron > 0.3 micron > 0.5 micron > 1 micron > 5 microns
Class 1 N/A 10 2 0 0 0 0
Class 2 N/A 100 24 10 4 0 0
Class 3 Class 1 1,000 237 102 35 8 0
Class 4 Class 10 10,000 2,370 1,020 352 83 0
Class 5 Class 100 100,000 23,700 10,200 3,520 832 29
Class 6 Class 1,000 1,000,000 237,000 102,000 35,200 8,320 293
Class 7 Class 10,000 N/A N/A N/A 352,000 83,200 2,930
Class 8 Class 100,000 N/A N/A N/A 3,520,000 832,000 29,300
Class 9 Standard room air N/A N/A N/A 35,200,000 8,320,000 293,000

Cleanroom Design

A cleanroom’s design will be directly influenced by its required ISO classification. The amount of square footage that an organization can set aside for their cleanroom impacts numerous components of the room—the clean zone, airlocks, and gowning room must all be considered carefully as well. The latter areas must be carefully designed to mitigate particle migration from the exterior into the cleanroom.

Methods for improving the cleanliness capabilities of a cleanroom include:

  • Adding airlocks
  • Improved filtration
  • Increasing the number of air changes per hour

Cleanroom: a quick guide to classifications, design, and standards


ECU semiconductor application

Cleanroom Services From Air Innovations

Since our founding in 1986, Air Innovations has operated by a commitment to continuous innovation and growth. As such, we are continually improving our capabilities and offerings. Our expert staff designs and manufactures HVAC systems for use in a variety of cleanroom applications and other critical environments.

Interested in learning more about cleanrooms? Download our “Cleanroom Technology” whitepaper. The whitepaper illustrates how temperature, humidity, filtration, and pressure can affect applications. We also have whitepapers available covering the pharmaceutical industry, the semiconductor industry, and our Micro Environments product line. These whitepapers can be found here. More information regarding our work with cleanrooms and other industries can be found on our case studies page.

For more information about our line of cleanroom solutionscontact our team today. We’re looking forward to talking to you!

HVAC – A Complete Guide on Specialized HVAC Systems

Environmental control systemHepair® cleanroom hvac system

HVAC systems are essential components in the functionality and appeal of all modern buildings. Well-designed and efficient HVAC systems go well beyond ensuring comfortable temperatures and fresh air for facilities. They also play a key role in the production and testing processes of a broad spectrum of industries.

HVAC systems play a crucial role in pharmaceutical engineering and manufacturing because they have a direct impact on the production environment. Optimized HVAC units can help pharmaceutical companies Mining and Drilling, pass inspections, and remain CGMP-compliant, and more.

Specialized hvac systems infographic

All You Need to Know About Specialized HVAC Systems

What is a Specialized HVAC System?

The acronym HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Specialized HVAC systems control the temperature, humidity level, and air quality in a space to ensure the required specifications for your application are met.

 

Types of HVAC Systems We Design & Manufacture

We specialize in the design and manufacture of advanced HVAC systems for the precise control of temperature, humidity, filtration, and pressurization for equipment and processes. The three main configurations of HVAC systems we manufacture are integrated, mounted, and standalone in standard or custom solutions.

 

Integrated HVAC

Integrated solutions are designed to fit seamlessly within existing equipment structure, allowing for a smaller size and footprint, greater system efficiency, and lower installation cost.

 

Mounted HVAC

ECUs that are mounted to an existing system can be designed to meet system weight constraints, provide a reduced ECU footprint, and offer close proximity to the process.

 

Standalone HVAC

Standalone units can be placed in the space surrounding your equipment and offer maximum flexibility in system location, installation, configuration, and performance capability.

 

Explosion-Proof HVAC

Less common but no less critical, explosion-proof HVAC systems are an essential aspect of many industrial applications. For example, ore mining/processing facilities can make use of these units to prevent an explosion of coal dust particles in the air.

Other industries that utilize explosion-proof HVAC systems include:

  • Oil and gas
  • Military
  • Aerospace
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food processing
  • Agriculture

Nowadays, many off-the-shelf explosion-proof units are available. However, companies that require explosion-proof environmental control units often need to ensure that their HVAC systems supplier has the capability to provide a tailored solution for their particular application.

Industries and Applications

Industries ranging from homeland security to aerospace use specialized HVAC solutions as an essential part of their daily operations. The following are some examples of specific industries and applications that utilize HVAC systems.

 

Aerospace

Aerospace
Aerospace

Aerospace applications require strict environmental control in everything from research and development to launch areas. At Air Innovations, we’ve supported a variety of unique aerospace projects, such as clean room filtration, environmentally controlled transportation of aerospace components, and strict environmental control of launch areas.

For example, one rocket’s fueling system demanded a dry dew point of -22° C just before launch. Any remaining moisture would condense and transform into ice on the rocket’s piping, creating a dangerous situation. The solution to this quandary was an in-line desiccant dryer surrounded by two tailored environmental control units used to eliminate moisture and maintain tight temperature tolerances.

 

Homeland Security

Environmental control for homeland security systems
Homeland security hvac

Durable HVAC units assist in temperature and humidity maintenance at airport terminals, including security checkpoints and baggage claim areas. Additionally, explosives detection devices (EDDs) at airports demand strict internal control of temperature and humidity variables in order to function properly.As such, the Homeland Security Department relies on specialized HVAC units for these applications.

 

Mining and Drilling

Custom environmental control for mining & drilling
Oil & drilling application - ocean

Mining and drilling companies use environmental control units to keep electrical cabinets of centrifuge machines cool. Centrifuges eliminate slurry during drilling operations, and are therefore an indispensable component of the overall extraction process. ECUs that keep their cabinets cool help prevent overheating, fires, explosions, and other dangerous circumstances.

 

Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical

Life sciences and biotech environmental control systems
Explosion Proof HVAC for Pharmaceuticals

Biotech and pharmaceutical companies frequently employ specialized HVAC units for strict control over temperature, humidity, and dew point, especially when handling sensitive equipment, or performing processes that require certain environmental conditions to succeed.

Cleanroom

Computer rooms, laboratories, hospitals, and process isolators often make use of cleanrooms. HVAC units designed for cleanroom use often come with features such as positive/negative pressure control, once-through or recirculating air flow, and alarms triggered by the slightest variance from set tolerances.

The Pharmaceutical Industry and HVAC Systems

Air innovations cleanroom air conditioning

The Importance of HVAC Systems for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Why are well-functioning HVAC systems so important to the pharmaceutical industry today? While there are many factors involved, but here are just two of the reasons they are so essential:

  • Modern diagnostic machines need to operate within very strict temperature and humidity tolerances so that the integrity of powdered and fluid reagents is not comprised. The consequences of a misdiagnosis or false reading from the introduction of unanticipated moisture, for example, could be serious for both patient and medical provider alike. Customized HVAC units that ensure stable environmental conditions—whether cold, hot, or dry—and integrate well into often limited space, are key pieces of an effective diagnostic process.
  • Moisture can be one of the worst enemies of modern medicine production. In every phase of production—from milling to compounding to coating—excess moisture can cause manufacturing inefficiencies, weaken the medicine’s effect, or in the worst-case scenario, completely ruin an entire batch of product. Specialized HVAC units that enforce a specified dew point based on the application all but guarantee that there will be no excess moisture from the air to cause production issues.

System Design

There are several design considerations that engineers must apply to HVAC systems intended for pharmaceutical applications. Ideally, architectural components should dovetail with HVAC design factors, such as pressure differential cascades and cross-contamination control. Adequate ventilation and filtration are important considerations for laboratory testing areas and cleanrooms.

Additionally, HVAC engineers must implement systems that ensure strict control over temperature, relative humidity and/or dew point, without interfering with the actual pharmaceutical manufacturing process.

 

Operational HVAC Optimization in Pharmaceutical Facilities

After HVAC room requirements have been established, there are ways to optimize HVAC system operations to keep costs low and efficiencies high. Some optimization measures could include:

  • The reduction of air-change rates
  • Optimized temperature and humidity limits
  • Improved control sequences for use of floating set-points and dead-band control
  • Changeover to a two-port variable volume system
  • The addition of airflow meters and air volume control components

Efficient and Custom HVAC Solutions at Air Innovations

Air Innovations provides several HVAC products specifically designed for use in the pharmaceutical industry. These include:

Hepair® cleanroom hvac system

HEPAir® Cleanroom HVAC System

Arrayair ECU

Arrayair ECU



Some Case Studies

Air Innovations has enjoyed much success in delivering highly specialized HVAC solutions to clients in the pharmaceutical industry.

For example, one customer requested a precision control HVAC system to provide uniform drying for fluid bed dryers used in capsule and pill coating. Air Innovations supplied a pharmaceutical process control unit that provided airflow to the process tools, allowed the client to add or remove humidity, and maintained a steady dew point of 50° F.

In another case, a client needed a chemical process control unit that would hold set temperature and humidity levels in widely varying conditions all over the globe, while also operating on a continuous, year-round basis. Air Innovations provided an HVAC unit that depends on two independent cooling coils, along with process fans that alternate operation time. Various sensor inputs help to manage switch-over intervals. As a result, the cooling coils continue running without defrost interruptions, even in sub-zero temperatures.

HVAC systems are an essential aspect of pharmaceutical manufacturing. If you’d like to learn more about how Air Innovations can provide a workable, highly-customized, and efficient HVAC solution for your manufacturing needs, reach out to us today.

Negative and Positive Pressure Rooms 101 | Hospital Infection Control

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Effective positive and negative pressure rooms are an important part of industrial climate control systems. In medical settings, these rooms prevent the spread of infectious contaminants and maintain sterile or restricted spaces and are also referred to as Protective Environments (positive pressure rooms) and Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIR) (negative pressure rooms). Negative or positive pressure rooms are a necessary part of a wide range of medical and research environments, as they help maintain clean conditions in the smallest clinic to the largest hospital.

Understanding Positive and Negative Pressure Rooms

Positive pressure rooms maintain a higher pressure inside the treated area than that of the surrounding environment. This means air can leave the room without circulating back in. In this way, any airborne particle that originates in the room will be filtered out. Germs, particles, and other potential contaminants in the surrounding environment will not enter the room. In medical settings, a positive pressure room (protective environment) allows staff to keep vulnerable patients safe from infections and disease.

In contrast, a negative pressure room uses lower air pressure to allow outside air into the segregated environment. This traps and keeps potentially harmful particles within the negative pressure room by preventing internal air from leaving the space. Negative pressure rooms in medical facilities isolate patients with infectious conditions (AIIR) and protect people outside the room from exposure.

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Positive and negative pressure rooms both require a number of additional components to remain effective: Building positive and negative pressure rooms requires the use of specialized construction and climate control equipment. A minimum of 12 air-flow changes each hour must be maintained in order to sustain the desired environment and depending on the size and purpose of the room, more may be necessary.

  • Recirculation of air through HEPA filters to control the movement of airborne contaminants
  • Self-closing entryway with an adequate seal
  • Thoroughly sealed floors, ceiling, walls, and windows
  • Fans and ductwork to move air in the desired directions
  • A monitoring system that allows users to adjust pressure when necessary
  • Intermediate environment between the pressure room and outside environment for deliveries, observations, and protective gear storage

Some medical facilities additionally incorporate UV radiation into the system to help maintain a sterile environment. Using UV light in a filtration system sterilizes particles and reduces viruses (such as coronavirus) in the quarantine space, helping to protect healthcare workers who enter the room to service the quarantined patient.

Negative and positive pressure rooms in hospitals

Positive and Negative Pressure Rooms in Hospitals

Positive and negative pressure rooms are an essential part of controlling the spread of infectious diseases within large facilities such as hospitals. Negative pressure rooms (airborne infection isolation rooms) are a common solution in infection control efforts. Hospitals use them in inpatient rooms to ensure infectious germs don’t spread throughout the facility via the HVAC system. Hospitals usually design the following areas as negative pressure environments:

  • Waiting areas, especially in emergency rooms
  • Triage areas
  • Bathrooms
  • AII (airborne infection isolation) rooms
  • Autopsy and dark rooms
  • Soiled laundry areas
  • Decontamination spaces

Positive pressure rooms are usually used in scenarios that must continually filter harmful contaminants out of the environment. This makes them helpful when treating patients with compromised immune systems because the introduction of any harmful element will be efficiently filtered out. They’re also used in situations that must continually maintain a specific type of atmosphere in a room, such as human and animal nurseries. Other uses of positive pressure rooms include in vitro fertilization labs and operating theaters.

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Installing Your Pressurized Room

Hospital managers must carefully plan their pressurized room to ensure they satisfy the following requirements:

  • The room fits the facility’s needs and space
  • The room conforms to applicable legal regulations
  • The room fully protects patients and the general public from the spread of infectious diseases

Efficiently installed positive and negative pressure rooms mean the difference between a healthy environment for hospital patients and one compromised by infectious pathogens.

Beyond the basics

Discover All That Air Innovations Has to Offer

Air Innovations creates custom positive and negative pressure environments for various medical and specialized facilities. From full custom quarantine ECUs to sterile storage solutions we provide a range of products and services that help hospitals maintain healthy indoor environments. Contact us to learn more about contamination control and sterilization solutions or for a customized quote for your next cleanroom project.   Download our IsolationAir-brochure for more details about our line of standard hospital contamination control systems.

Specialized Dew Point and Humidity Control Systems: All You Need to Know

Dew point and humidity are important environmental factors in industrial settings. Although both these terms describe the amount of moisture present in an environment, some crucial differences exist between them.

Understanding the differences between an environment’s dew point and humidity is essential for selecting an optimal humidification or dehumidification system for your business or facility. Knowing the amount of moisture present in your internal climate as well as the point at which it condenses will allow you to better control the systems that govern these factors.

Specialized dew point

Understanding Humidity and Dew Point Control—Why Is It Needed?

Humidity measures the amount of water vapor present in the air. Absolute humidity defines how much water the surrounding air holds, and relative humidity is the percentage of air that contains liquid vapor at the time point of measurement. Specific humidity expresses the relationship between moist and dry air in a single system.

An environment’s dew point is the temperature needed for water vapor to condense and form on surfaces. A higher dew point means a higher atmospheric temperature at which dew forms.

Another way to describe an area’s dew point is the point at which its air reaches 100% relative humidity. At this point, the air has absorbed the maximum amount of moisture that it can retain and introducing any further moisture to the system results in fog or precipitation. This also occurs when the temperature is reduced in an environment that has 100% relative humidity.

Aerospace - orbital antares rocket launch Industries

A wide variety of industries rely on controlling the relative humidity and dew points to maintain good product quality and optimal working conditions:

  • Food distribution centers use humidity control systems to increase shelf life and avoid exorbitant energy prices
  • Humidity control prevents the spread of pathogens in medical facilities
  • Production facilities that work with hazardous chemicals control air moisture content to reduce the risk of volatile chemical reactions
  • Storage facilities use humidity control systems to keep porous or delicate materials from spoiling

Finding the correct moisture content for a room also increases its comfort for people. Commercial and industrial operations use humidity control systems to maintain comfortable internal environments without incurring large energy bill fluctuations.

Humidity Control Solutions for Multiple Industries

Controlled environment in medical analysis equipmentEnvironmental control companies must constantly innovate to create humidity control systems optimized for specific industrial environments. To use a specific example, biotherapy reagent packaging plants require systems that successfully balance high evaporative loads and heat. Designers of humidity controls for these kinds of facilities must customize clean rooms to consistently maintain high safety and health standards.

In another example, aerospace OEMs require large industrial cooling systems to maintain good manufacturing environments for delicate technological systems. Humidification control systems must meet narrow temperature, dew point, and humidity requirements to prevent corrosion or damage to sensitive electronic equipment.

Semiconductor manufacturers also rely on effective humidity control systems for this reason. Climate control systems for these facilities must achieve critical tolerances for humidity and temperature in both near-saturation environments and dry or trace-moisture facilities. Additionally, it is especially essential that if an application is using outside air, limited humidity fluctuation rates are considered for the process.

Control Moisture Buildup with Air Innovations

Humidity control in industrial environments improves product quality, industrial compliance, and employee, customer, and patron safety. Air Innovations designs a full suite of humidification control systems for settings that range from industrial clean rooms, HVAC systems, and factory floors.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help control the moisture content of your facility or business, be sure to contact us today.

If you would like to see case studies, view our general case studies page. We also have whitepapers available covering multiple industries including the the aerospace industry, the semiconductor industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and our Micro Environments product line.