On December 21, 2018, Dr. Tang Ming, Chairman and CEO of E-3 Green Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., delivered a speech entitled “The Solution for Laboratory Safety Problems in Chinese Universities” at the “Innovation Forum on Laboratory Environment and Safety in Universities” held at Tongji University in Shanghai. In his speech, Dr. Tang Ming proposed a global initiative and an invitation to international organizations involved in the laboratory ventilation equipment industry, to hold the “Shanghai International Laboratory Ventilation Equipment Open” at Tongji University next year.
In recent years, many universities in China have expanded their facilities through the construction of large-scale, mega laboratories. Unfortunately, most have failed to meet ventilation safety standards, exposing teachers and students to unsafe working conditions and serious health risks. In his speech, Dr. Tang Ming pointed out that even large-scale laboratory projects completed by several famous universities in the last two years are in practice, operating at unsafe levels of toxin exposure, with temperature and humidity levels out of control.
Arguably, the most critical piece of safety equipment in the laboratory is the fume hood. Since the 1980s, standards around the world had consensus that the most important safety criterion for fume hoods is their containment performance results. In 1985, the standard for fume hood containment leakage threshold was set at 0.5ppm in the US, which was subsequently tightened to 0.05ppm in 1995 after OSHA’s alarming report that lab workers had lower than average lifespans. China’s first fume hood standard, published later in 1999, was 0.5ppm. Disappointingly, the laboratory equipment industry in China continued to remain silent on fume hood containment, and grossly misled the market with the false concept that “face velocity” is the national safety standard.
In most countries, there are only a handful of fume hood manufacturers, even in certain lesser-developed markets such as India. In China however, due to the lack of technological barriers, anyone who can piece together a four-sided enclosure with an exhaust blower can make and sell them as “fume hoods”, resulting in thousands of fume hood manufacturers. In the past 20 years, these “fume hoods” that have neither been designed with any engineering basis to ensure safety, nor properly tested for containment performance, are being sold and installed in laboratories across the country. To make matters even worse, the shortsighted practice and prevalence of “lowest bid wins” in previous years have only exacerbated the problem.
On a positive note, the awareness of fume hood containment has improved in China over the last two years. More lab owners have put forth containment requirements in their bidding documents. There is also progress underway to formulate an updated fume hood standard, which will tighten the containment threshold to 0.05ppm. However, countless numbers of newly built, mega laboratory projects are still silent in regards to listing fume hood containment performance as a bidding requirement, with more unsafe labs being continuously built every day.
To achieve lab safety, another critical problem that must be solved is the enormous cost of energy required to operate fume hoods. Dr. Tang Ming said that in China, only a few universities, such as Shanghai University of Science and Technology and West Lake (Xihu) University, which may have abundant funds for lab operation, can afford to operate labs with high HVAC energy consumption. Within the global technological framework over the last few decades, no definitive solution has been provided for the critical fume hood energy cost problem. Until a solution is found, the cost of operating safe laboratories will remain unfeasibly high for the vast majority of Chinese laboratories, even for top-tier universities. Therefore, it is quite clear that the only solution for this problem is through unprecedented, disruptive technical innovation.
In order to decrease laboratory energy consumption, the amount of conditioned air brought into the laboratory space and exhausted by fume hoods must be reduced. Currently, the technological means to achieve this is branched between two types of technologies: the “high-performance” low-flow hoods, and the active supply-air hoods. Additionally, the adoption and implementation of VAV control systems are becoming increasingly popular, but the performance of these VAV systems are dependent upon the quality of air dampers or valves, currently comprised of three types: the butterfly damper, venturi valve, and E∙Flow damper.
To promote further innovation in the laboratory ventilation equipment industry, Dr. Tang Ming proposed to hold the first “Shanghai International Laboratory Ventilation Equipment Open” (Shanghai Open) next year. The Shanghai Open welcomes all companies and organizations worldwide to participate, as competitors will setup mock laboratories with the same requirements, conduct real-time monitoring on operating energy-usage, and comprehensively assess the safety and energy-efficiency performance. The energy-usage data will be collected in real-time and made available online for worldwide public monitoring, and the final results will be published globally for public access.
The Shanghai Open will invite the HVAC Institute of Tongji University and the Shanghai Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC) for professional guidance; invite leading experts in the field of HVAC to form expert teams; and invite Professor Liu Dong of Tongji University and Mr. Chip Albright, the former Chairman of SEFA and a world-renown fume hood expert, to serve as co-chair judges. Tongji University will provide the testing environment.
Dr. Tang Ming noted that from September 2017 to May 2018, the SEEC conducted an extensive energy consumption measurement and comparison analysis between the Bernoulli Hood, an innovative product of E-3, and fume hoods by two leading global brands. The results showed that the Bernoulli Hood consumed 67%-83% less energy than the other two brands, is on different seasonal conditions. The Shanghai Open will adopt a similar evaluation framework the SEEC used to evaluate the Bernoulli Hood’s energy-savings performance. Equipment safety evaluation will reference and use the ANSI/ASHRAE 110-2016 tracer gas testing standard and protocol.
SOURCE E-3 Green Technology Inc.