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About Berkeley Hood

Fume hoods have long been used to protect workers from breathing harmful gases and particles, and are ubiquitous in pharmaceutical and biotechnology facilities, industrial shops, medical testing labs, private and university research labs, and high school chemistry labs. Fume hoods are box-like structures, often mounted at tabletop level with a movable window-like front called a sash. They capture, contain and exhaust hazardous fumes, drawn out of the hood by fans through a port at the top of the hood.

Highlighting the "systems nature" of fume hood design, hoods require large amounts of air flow that tend to drive size, and first cost of central heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in buildings where hoods are located. As a result, fume hoods are a major factor in making a typical laboratory four- to five-times more energy intensive than typical commercial buildings. A typical hood consumes three-times more energy than an average house. With 750,000 hoods in use in the U.S., aggregate energy use and savings potential is significant. The annual operating cost of U.S. fume hoods is approximately $3.2 billion, with a corresponding peak electrical demand of 5,000 megawatts.

Further amplifying the need to improve fume hood design, recent research shows that increasing the amount and rate of airflow (and, consequently, energy use) does not tend to improve containment. Instead, errant eddy currents and vortexes can be induced around hood users as air flows around workers and into the hood, reducing containment effectiveness and compromising safety.

Existing approaches for saving energy in fume hoods are complicated and costly to implement, and do not address worker safety issues inherent in traditional fume hood design. Innovation is hampered by various barriers stemming from existing fume hood testing/rating procedures, entrenched industry practices, and ambiguous and often contradictory guidance on safe levels of airflow.

To address the shortcomings of existing approaches and to promote innovation in the marketplace, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed and patented a promising new technology-The Berkeley Hood-which uses a "push-pull" approach to contain fumes and move air. Small supply fans located at the top and bottom of the hood's face, push air into the hood and into the user's breathing zone, setting up an "air divider" at the hood opening. Consequently, the Berkeley Hood's exhaust fan can be operated at a much lower flow rate. Because less air is flowing through the hood, the building's environmental conditioning system can be downsized, saving both energy and initial construction costs-offsetting the potential added cost of the Berkeley Hood. Three field tests have validated the performance.

This website describes the technology development behind the Berkeley Hood, field trials demonstrating pollutant containment down to 34 percent of full flow, current R&D needs, and technology transfer work underway to continue moving the hood towards commercialization. Based on conservative assumptions, we have identified a preliminary U.S. electricity savings potential for the Berkeley Hood of $1.6 billion annually.

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Last updated: 24 September, 2007