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Filtration Guide

Activated Carbon Effectiveness

Ductless fume hoods provide cost benefits over ducted systems by eliminating the need for ductwork changes in the laboratory as well as utility savings. However, they are limited by the types and quantities of chemicals they can handle.  The purpose of this application guide is to provide information on the proper use of ductless fume hoods.


Carbon Filtration Technology

Our ductless fume cabinets incorporate our exclusive Multiplex™ high performance activated carbon filters, which are the primary filtration component in removing all chemical fumes from within our products before the air is recirculated into the laboratory.
Activated carbon exhibits excellent adsorbent characteristics that make carbon useful for a wide variety of processes, including filtration, purification, deodorization, decolorization, purification and separation.
The effectiveness of activated carbon as an adsorbent is attributed to its unique properties, including “large surface area, a high degree of surface reactivity, universal adsorption effect, and pore size.”
Activated carbon is produced from a wide variety of carbon-rich raw materials, including wood, coal, peat, coconut shells, nutshells, bones and fruit stones. New materials are currently under investigation as sources for activated carbon.

The two primary types of activation are:

  • Chemical Activation
    • This technique is generally used for the activation of peat and wood-based raw materials.
    • The raw material is impregnated with a strong dehydrating agent, typically phosphoric acid or zinc chloride mixed into a paste and then heated to temperatures of 500 – 800°C to activate the carbon.
    • The resultant activated carbon is washed, dried and ground to powder.
  • Steam Activation
    • This technique s generally used for the activation of coal and coconut shell raw material which is usually processed in a carbonized form.
    • Activation is carried out at temperatures of 800 – 1100°C in the presence of steam.
Filter Monitoring
There are two aspects to filter monitoring:
  • Checking the airflow to ensure the pre-filter is not clogged with dust.
  • Checking the exhaust air for chemical contaminants to ensure the main filter has not reached the breakthrough point.
Airflow can be measured with an anemometer. There are a number of anemometer designs available including propeller, hot wire and vane anemometer. In addition, most ductless fume hoods are fitted with a low airflow alarm which indicates a low airflow situation as well as fan failure.
Air Science uses high-quality centrifugal fans to ensure that airflow is maintained even as the pre-filter airflow resistance increases. Filter monitoring should aim to detect the period of initial breakthrough and in all cases should warn the operator well before the permissible exposure level (PEL) is reached.
Active Zone
Adsorption takes place in a filter bed in what is known as the active filter zone (represented above as the dark saturated area). As the filter is used, this active zone progressively moves up the filter bed until it approaches the top surface of the filter. At this point, there is an initial breakthrough by the contaminant vapor(s). Thereafter, the percentage of contaminant gas that escapes filtration increases.
Filter monitoring can be performed with gas detection tubes. Most of the units have test ports allowing the use of this equipment in a zone immediately above the main filter.  The filter is challenged with a known chemical, and the concentration of this chemical in the exhaust air is measured with a suitable detection tube.  The safety of this process is enhanced by the use of safety backup filters that prevent any contamination coming from the main filter from being recirculated into the work area.
Electronic filter saturation alarms which use special gas sensors are also available.  These alarms provide continuous monitoring and remove the need for manual testing. Such sensors are sensitive to a wide range of hydrocarbon contaminants used in the laboratory, with a detection sensitivity of a few parts per million (PPM).

Filter Disposal

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Multiplex Filtration

The Air Science® Multiplex Filtration System consists of a pre-filter, main filter and optional safety filter to create a combination of chemical and physical architecture customized to each application.

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Enhanced Filtration Technology

Learn more about Enhanced Filtration Technology (EFT), The Air Science® Multiplex™ Filtration System consists of a pre-filter, main filter and optional safety filter to create a combination of chemical and physical architecture customized to each application.