You may never have heard of a cleanroom, though you have probably seen them depicted in movies or television programs that feature labs executing delicate work. Cleanrooms are rooms wherein the number of particles allowed into the air is carefully controlled and monitored. Outdoor air, as an example, can contain up to one million particles per cubic foot. By contrast, the highest class of cleanroom will contain only one particle larger than .05 microns in a cubic foot of air. Here are three interesting facts about these rooms, why they are necessary, and how they are designed.
Who Uses Them?
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, NASA scientists began exploring how to eliminate as much contamination from pollution, humans, products, and other types of air contamination as possible while developing the space travel program. Their work resulted in a new understanding of how to develop entire rooms that were mostly free of any invading particles that could gum up the works of delicate instruments needed to guide satellites and rocket ships. Since that time, the electronic, pharmaceutical, and biotechnical industries have probably benefitted the most from their work, though more than 30 industries use the technology in their research and production. In fact, since 2000, significant advances have been made that further increase their cleanliness and usefulness.
Why Are They Necessary?
You can imagine that within certain industries the need for absolutely clean and clear spaces is paramount to being able to develop products. In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, airborne contaminants can quickly change, wreck, or destroy lab experiments. Such contamination can degrade the safety of the finished product, and if this product is meant for humans, the resulting risks and damage could certainly affect a company’s bottom line—not to mention the lives of hundreds or thousands of customers. In the electronics industry, even one tiny particle can render a delicate piece of machinery unusable. It was a single .05 micron particle that caused the Hubble Telescope to have problems during operation, which gives you an indication of how sensitive this equipment can be.
How Are They Designed?
There are a number of elements to be considered during the design process, including the architecture of the room and how to include the furniture and spaces required for the work required; HEPA filters that are needed to achieve the desired air cleanliness level; further filtration mechanisms that remove particles from gases and liquids; how the rooms are to be cleaned; the garments that will be worn by humans working within the room; and the activity of the people who will work in the room (their movements, the need for air conditioning, how to allow communication, etc.). The technology for developing cleanrooms has advanced spectacularly within the last decade, and this has made it and even more streamlined design process.
AES (www.aesclean.com)is the leader in turnkey design, manufacturing, and construction, of modular cleanrooms systems, and we build custom cleanroom equipment for life science and technology companies.
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