HEPA Filters for Biological Safety Cabinets
When purchasing a new Biological Safety Cabinet, or exploring the total cost of ownership, it is worth considering “how long does a HEPA filter last?”. It is also important take into consideration the safety and cost of replacing a HEPA filter. This includes cost of the filter itself and the amount of down-time in the laboratory while the filter is being replaced.
So how long does a HEPA filter last?
The frequency in which a filter would need to be replaced is highly based upon the laboratory environment the Biological Safety Cabinet is used in. If the BSC is installed and used in a clean room, the filters could potentially last forever. On the other hand, if the BSC was installed in an environment where there are a lot of particulates, the filters won’t last as long. To create a standard for the average filter life, data on when HEPA filters were replaced was reviewed by NuAire. Based on the analysis of this data, NuAire found that filters generally last around 7 years on average.
However, with the use of new energy efficient motors being used in most newer BSC models, the expected lifespan of a HEPA filter may be lessened. With that said, the “energy savings” provided by these new motor designs may actually offset the savings by having to replace the HEPA filters more frequently.
AC PSC vs. New Motor Technologies
The new AC 3-phase, DC ECM and DC motor technologies that are being used in most BSC’s today are designed to help “reduce energy consumption” by increasing energy efficiency sometimes by 40%-80%. Incidentally, most of all these new motors don’t provide the same capabilities, such as increased RPM (torque) with long lasting filter use resistance. Instead, the new motors are used with an airflow feedback loop control system or a motor feedback control system. Both methods are effective and provide the needed airflow control to keep the cabinets’ airflow within the recommended airflow containment performance range.
Advantages of DC ECM Motor Technology
DC ECM motor technology has been shown to increase the filter loading capability. The DC ECM motor was manufactured with a forward curved fan designed specifically to fit different sized widths of the cabinets. The DC ECM motor design provides additional motor rpms, with a 250% increase in pressure drop or static pressure filter loading capacity. In addition, the system has been shown to save energy costs, on average up to 50%. It is also quieter with less noise pollution and less vibrations.
The DC ECM has the ability to be programmed to provide constant air volume even as the HEPA filter loads with particulates. In addition, the airflow control system can be fine tuned to assure maximum containment performance along with maximum allowable HEPA filter use.
The DC ECM motor, when incorporated into a BSC, provides the lowest life cycle cost in terms of energy, filter load capacity and reliability.
Other Things to Consider
HEPA Filters (99.99%) retain or trap only particulates. They are not designed to trap fumes, chemicals, gases, and vapors. As with any media-type filter, the size of the filter and the number of air exchanges through the filter will in the end determine how effective the filter is.
ULPA Filters (99.999%) often require a larger blower or multiple blowers to create proper airflow. They are often more expensive and need to be replaced more frequently. They are typically not recommended for biological applications.
Controlling the airflow in a Class II, Type A2 BSC consists of both down flow for product protection and inflow for personnel protection. The airflow configuration of both down flow and inflow are designed to provide ideal containment performance. Particles generated in the cabinet work zone are pulled into the blower and flow into the positive pressure common plenum for use of both supply and exhaust airflow. Particle distribution within a common plenum is best when evenly dispersed to minimize the generation of high/low airflow velocities within the cabinet work zone. An exhaust choke or damper provides a balance of the down flow to exhaust flow (inflow). Even particle distribution along with balancing down flow to inflow will provide maximum cabinet containment execution and extend HEPA filter life.
Along with many other benefits the DC ECM motor technology has the ability to be programmed to provide constant air volume even as the filter loads with particles. This airflow control system can be programmed to provide the ultimate containment performance along with maximum allowable HEPA filter use.
Advantages of NuAire
NuAire incorporates their technical knowledge and the best of the new DC ECM technology in their Biological Safety Cabinets to give you and your laboratory a better value with lower energy costs, longer filter life, and reduced noise and vibration. NuAire BioSafety Cabinets use the largest HEPA filters with the most pleats per square inch; an electronic airflow control system; internal exhaust damper; and individually selected, optimally determined forward-curved fans for each model size/width. NuAire is the only manufacturer of these types of BioSafety cabinets with these features to ensure you will be getting the best performance, quality, reliability, service and cost saving technologies.
For more information on HEPA filters, NuAire or Biological Safety cabinets, contact us today to speak with your local area representative or click below for more information.