The Challenges of Supplying Vacuum for a Cleanroom

In certain industries, successful research, product development or manufacturing depends on the maintenance of a contaminant-free environment. Work on pharmaceuticals, medical devices and electronics, for example, may be compromised by particulates or airborne microbes. To protect these critical processes, cleanrooms are used to control airflows to achieve extremely low particulate loads.

Operating the equipment needed to serve the cleanroom’s mission often presents a formidable engineering challenge, however, as the systems must run without compromising the workspace’s “clean” status. 

Supplying vacuum to a cleanroom

Providing vacuum to a cleanroom illustrates the challenge. Vacuum may be used for picking up, moving or holding down small parts, transferring liquids or creating appropriate analytical conditions. The problem is that a vacuum pump in a cleanroom has an exhaust point that will recirculate any particulates drawn into the pump during operations. Conversely, a remote pump powering a building-wide vacuum system that delivers vacuum to local turrets avoids the recirculation risk, but offers extremely limited control over the vacuum conditions in the lab.

Local vacuum networks

A local vacuum network offers a solution to this challenge. A small, oil-free pump can be installed just outside of the cleanroom, ensuring that the controlled environment is not contaminated by pump exhaust. The pump can then be connected to electronic controllers within the lab, affording precise control – and even programmable conditions – within the work space. The pump can be plumbed to several vacuum workstations, eliminating the cooling load and space demands of multiple pumps in an environment that can cost several hundred dollars per square foot, according to Controlled Environments. 

“Cleanroom designers should equip new spaces with local vacuum networks.”

These modular local vacuum systems thus turn what would otherwise be an engineering challenge into a series of benefits for lab operators: they can avoid contamination, save valuable space and offer precise control over their individual vacuum applications.  

At VACUUBRAND, we offer high-performing, modular lab vacuum systems that can help make your laboratory, clean room or biosafety suite more flexible and efficient. To learn more, contact us today.