The University of Notre Dame is expanding rapidly.  Part of that expansion includes new lab buildings on campus.  In 2016, McCourtney Hall was built, adding 140,000 square feet of multidisciplinary research labs.  In part due to recent problems with central vacuum systems on campus – including the complete failure of one central system – the university did not want a central vacuum system in McCourtney Hall.  Architect BSA LifeStructures was able to propose VACUU·LAN® local vacuum networks as a reliable alternative to a central vacuum system, based on BSA’s past experience working with VACUUBRAND and VACUU·LAN networks.

In addition to the superior reliability, BSA designed in local vacuum networks which minimized power consumption and contributed to McCourtney Hall’s prestigious LEED Platinum rating.  By using PC 3012 NT VARIO® pumps with variable frequency drives (VFDs), these local networks respond automatically to variations in demand.  When demand on any given network is high, the pump will run fast enough to ensure researchers get vacuum at the desired level.  When demand is low, the pump’s motor slows down in order to conserve energy – while still holding to the user-selected vacuum level.  And when there is no demand on any given pump, it automatically goes into a low power ‘sleep’ state, drawing less than 5 W of power.  This allows for massive power savings compared to central vacuum systems.

The professors and researchers who have moved into this new space are reaping the benefit of stable vacuum that is adjustable to suit their research.  Another benefit of the PC 3012 NT VARIO pumps used on this project is that the vacuum level is adjustable through a wide range – from atmospheric pressure down to 1.5 torr (29.86 in. Hg).  Whereas central vacuum systems typically go no deeper than 150 torr (24 in. Hg), the local networks can provide vacuum that is 100 times deeper in order to support demanding vacuum applications, such as those involving sample drying or solvent evaporation.

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