Cleanrooms are used for specialized processes and require a very clean environment. One of the most important aspects of cleanroom design is airflow. The air within a cleanroom is highly controlled through HVAC units and filtration systems. The air that flows into the cleanroom is typically categorized by three different kinds of airflow patterns. One of the more common airflow patterns is laminar flow.
Laminar flow occurs when the air flows in sheets and the layers are parallel to one another. Air travels into the cleanroom via HEPA filters which ensure clean air is flowing into the room. The air then flows downward in layers to the floor where it is then recirculated and filtered again. The next type of airflow that is used in cleanrooms is called turbulent air. Like laminar flow, air still goes through HEPA filters, with the difference being that it isn’t in that straight uniform flow.
Turbulent air comes in at different angles and gets recirculated through various grilles in the wall or support columns. Turbulent air is typically used in rooms that don’t require an extremely high level of cleanliness. The last type of airflow is a mix of both turbulent and laminar flows. This mixed airflow type is typically used in cleanrooms that have sectioned off zones for various processes.
Some sections of the room may need to be at higher levels of cleanliness, whereas other parts of the room may not handle critical processes. Depending on the cleanroom design, cleaner zones may be separated by modular hard walls or with the use of soft walled plastic curtains. Furthermore, air is recaptured through various grilles located in different locations to keep with either the laminar or turbulent airflow.
What type of airflow is right for your cleanroom? It ultimately comes down to what type of work is being done within the cleanroom, but most cleanroom designers prefer to use laminar flow. The older style of laminar air flow would have the air go straight down from the ceiling into the floor. Newer cleanrooms don’t require the room to be raised, and can take in air through grilles near the floor.
Getting the right kind of airflow is easily accomplished through modular construction. Modular cleanroom walls offer the unique flexibility in which the walls can be moved or reconfigured within the room. Furthermore, modular construction allows for a higher level of quality assurance as the materials are fabricated under factory- controlled conditions.
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