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Ventilation 2003 February 2003 Air Flow Consulting Alois Schlin

Zone Separation by Ventilation Design for Contaminant

Control in Rooms with Strong Disturbances

Dr. Alois Schaelin

AFC Air Flow Consulting AG, Langmauerstrasse 109
CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland
Phone +41 1 350 35 95, Fax +41 1 350 35 96
E-mail address:,
A major concern of ventilation is the proper control of contaminants. This paper gives an overview
of ventilation concepts for large rooms from general to local ventilation towards this goal.
The main focus is the development of solutions to achieve a zone separation in the room by proper
ventilation-based techniques rather than dividing the room by real walls. One zone is allowed to have a
certain contaminant level whereas the other zone must be kept below a desired threshold level.
The basic principles are discussed, problems in the case of strong disturbances highlighted and
improvements illustrated by a number of examples where in real situations ventilation solutions have
been designed and optimized by the use of CFD simulations.
1 Introduction
A major concern of ventilation is the proper control of contaminants.
The best techniques to avoid the distribution of contaminants are certainly either to minimize or
eliminate the sources or to exhaust the released contaminants immediately close to the source, but most
often this is not possible for various reasons, e.g. the contaminant source is moving or distributed.
In those cases other techniques have to be designed and developed. This paper starts with an
overview of ventilation concepts for large rooms from general to local ventilation towards this goal and
highlights advantages and disadvantages.
The main goal is, generally speaking, to divide the room under consideration into two zones with
different contaminant concentrations, one of them being at arbitrary level, the other one however being
very low, at least below a desired threshold level, possibly also strictly zero (if possible at all).
This requirement shall be fulfilled without dividing the room entirely by real rigid walls, of course
(that would mean a trivial fulfillment of the requirement). So we have a look into the results that can be
achieved by different ways of air guiding by proper ventilation design.
2 Impact of ventilation to contaminant distribution
This section covers the influence of mechanical airflow systems to the distribution of a contaminant
in a typical room.
2.1 Properties of principle ventilation systems
Figure 1 summarizes the influence of the standard ventilation setups (called here A1, A2 and A3) to
the distribution of a contaminant in a typical room. In mixing ventilation (system A1) the contaminant
level can be reduced by dilution only, which needs the highest ventilation rate for a desired effect. If the
zone of interest is the whole room, this is a good solution.
If the zone of interest with lower contaminant rate is however only a part of the room, such as the
zone of occupancy of a person in a large room, other ventilation strategies are more advantageous.
In the displacement ventilation system (system A2) fresh, cool and uncontaminated air is supplied
near the floor and is distributed along the floor. Along heat sources air is moved by thermal plumes to
the upper parts of the room. The exhausts are located in those parts.
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Ventilation 2003 February 2003 Air Flow Consulting Alois Schlin

1 2
Dilution only
No separation
Sources (1,2)
Regions of high
Heat sources
Exhaust hood
(being used later)
Regions of medium
Regions of low

Figure 1: Standard ventilation setups A1-A3 in a typical room with resulting contaminant distribution.
Two zones will settle in the room, a lower one with uncontaminated air and an upper one with warm
contaminated air. The upper zone is mixed within itself. If the thermal plumes are very small, or the
ventilation rate is very high compared to the air flow induced by thermal plumes, the upper zone is very
small and a similar picture as in A3 can be obtained, in the vertical direction.
Thermally induced natural ventilation can act similar to this displacement ventilation principle.
Mixing ventilation rates are in the range of 2-5 air changes per hour, displacement ventilation rates
are in the range of 1-2 air changes per hour in Europe, and a factor of 2 or so higher in North America.
In the push ventilation system (system A3) far higher ventilation rates are used (20-600 air changes
per hour) to achieve a piston type flow in the whole room at velocities in the range of 0.2-0.4 m/s. This
system is quite effective in removing the contaminants if the location of the source is favorable (Position
1, close to the outlet), otherwise a large part of the room is going to be contaminated at a certain level
(Position 2).
System A3 can also be oriented vertically downwards, used in clean room technology where
particles are moving downwards with gravity, or vertically upwards, in order not to oppose the thermal
plumes due to strong heat sources.
Wind-induced natural ventilation can act similar to the push ventilation principle.
2.2 Air flow systems designed to separate rooms
A next way to confine contaminants in one part of the room is to use purposely designed air flow
systems. Air curtains fall into this category. They are found most frequently in a sequence of rooms
connected by large openings or open doors, and usually at an entrance to separate even tow different
climatic conditions. Figure 2a shows the working principle (system B1) with a standard applications
between 2 rooms, and another one to keep a freeze drier free of particles in clean room technology.
The opposite system, namely an extract system at a similar location, is rarely found, as an exhaust
does not have a far-reaching effect such as a jet in an air curtain, and a far higher exhaust rate would be
needed to prevent a cross-distribution of contaminants.
Figure 2a also shows a pressurized sequence of rooms (system B2). Room 1 (to the left) has a supply
only, and room 2, to the right, has an exhaust only. Under certain conditions there is unidirectional flow
only (i.e. no counterflow) through the connecting opening.
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Ventilation 2003 February 2003 Air Flow Consulting Alois Schlin

Over pressure
Air curtain
Local jet C1
Local exhaust C2
Dilution only
No separation

Figure 2: a) Left: Purposely designed air flow systems B1, B2 to confine contaminants in a part of the space
considered. b) Right: Locally acting air flow techniques C1-C3 to confine contaminants.
Pressurized systems alone are less efficient against disturbances, e.g. thermally induced large
opening flows between 2 rooms at different pressure level tend to dominate easily over the desired
unidirectional flow. This system is increasingly efficient the smaller the connection between the rooms
becomes (as the flow velocities through this opening become higher and higher).
2.3 Local ventilation techniques
The previous systems are effective to prevent contaminant distribution to some extent in situations
where the location of the source cannot be determined precisely or is varying.
If the source can be localized well local air flow techniques can be considered. The following
systems only work for source location 1 in Figure 2b, but not for location 2.
Figure 2b shows some basic ways. A local jet (system C1) works again by dilution as fresh air is
being blown across the source location. A local exhaust (system C2) works the other way around and
extracts as much air as possible and as close as possible to the source. Very often a given volume flow
rate leads to the best contaminant control in this system.
Nevertheless this principle lacks of a far reaching effect and suffers a lot of disturbances in a
configuration with open sides. There have been a number of ways developed to improve the capture
behaviour, e.g.the next system, C3, or C4 in Figure 4.
A push-pull system (C3) is a kind of a combination of C1 and C2, where a jet blows towards an
exhaust; it is used often to confine evaporating gases on a liquid surface, such as on open styrene tanks.
3 Influence of disturbances
All the systems discussed are in practical applications subjected to disturbances.
Heat sources with thermal plumes (machines, lamps, persons,)
Cross winds
Impacts of machines or processes: moving parts, rotating wheels, high momentum source etc.
Complex room situations
Figure 3 shows a few situations where the basic goals of the planned ventilation cannot be fulfilled
for varying reasons. If the thermal plumes are big in the displacement ventilation case, the air flow
pattern becomes similar to the mixing ventilation case and the separation effect is lost. The cross wind
situation can again destroy the separation effect in the horizontal direction.
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Ventilation 2003 February 2003 Air Flow Consulting Alois Schlin

heat source
Cross wind
A2 disturbed
(similar problem
in B2)
B1 disturbed
(similar problem
in B2, C2)

Proper shielding by air curtain (undisturbed).

Air curtain in cross wind situation.

Over-pressurized shop with air curtain blown away.
Inside Outside
Cold air entering
Cold air entering
Figure 3: Effect of disturbances. Upper left: Strong heat source in displacement ventilation and cross wind
against air curtain. Illustration of air flow at entrance situations under various conditions:
The upper right picture in Figure 3 shows a well working air curtain, the lower left picture a bad shiel-
ding effect when the air curtain is exposed to cross-wind, and the lower right picture shows an over-pres-
surized shop. In the latter situation the air curtain is blown away, but nevertheless the flow in the opening
is very complicated and cold air can enter the shop (Schaelin 1998). The argumentation for cold air and
contaminated air is the same.
4 Improvements in real situations Examples from various case studies
This section shows some improvements of the basic situations presented so far. They are illustrated
by a number of examples where in real situations applications have been derived and optimized by the
use of CFD simulations.
The basic performance of the system can be assessed using analytical formulae for simplified
situations (see Industrial Ventilation Design Guidebook), or using numerical CFD (Computational
Fluid Dynamics) simulations for real complex situations. The illustration examples here are from such
numerical studies which have been found already in many applications to be very useful for real
applications. The real power of CFD simulations is the treatment of complex flow situation with
interaction of various influences.
Figure 4 gives an overview of some basic principles.
Ceiling partition
with slit exhaust
Enforced exhaust
system (C2 improved)
Exhaust hood
enforced by
air curtain
Air curtain along wall
enforced by exhaust

Figure 4: Improved systems made more resistent against disturbances.
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Ventilation 2003 February 2003 Air Flow Consulting Alois Schlin

System B3 is an improvement of system B2 (see Figure 2) and exhibits an enforced separation in the
ceiling area for warmer air. A small ceiling partition around the smokers area together with an exhaust
slit along this wall leads to an effective exhaust (see Figure 5). The small rigid glass wall extends the
capture range of the exhaust slit, as all the velocities in a certain distance are roughly doubled by the
presence of the wall. The realization is shown in Figure 5 together with a smoke test showing the
performance. The developed and realized solution showed a big success and removed the contamination
of the non-smoker areas to a very high percentage (Schaelin 2002).

Ceiling partition
with slit exhaust

Exhaust slit and
Glass partition
0.75m from the
Figure 5: Smoke confinement in a cafeteria with a dedicated smoker area. Above: Geometry and principle.
Below: Smoke distribution and smoke test.
System C4 (in Figure 4 again) is a sophisticated enforcement of the standard extraction effect by
adding some radial jet to the exhaust. Again the capture range of the exhaust can be increased, similar to
case B3, by a factor of 3 or more in a real system. This system is called REEXS and has been shown to
work well under industrial conditions (more in Gubler 2002).
System B4 represents an laboratory hood enforced by an air jet from above to stabilize the flow in
the opening, whereas the air jet in the upper right picture in Figure 4 is stabilized by an extra exhaust
along the floor.

Air curtain

Recirculation Additional


Figure 6: Clean room situation in front of an open freeze dryer. Left: Recirculation below open freeze dryer.
Right: Additional extract helps solving problem.
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Ventilation 2003 February 2003 Air Flow Consulting Alois Schlin

This latter effect was found to be important in a clean room situation, see Figure 6. The open cavity
leads to a bending away of the air curtain and to an unwanted recirculation zone near the floor which
can carry particles to the freeze dryer. A solution was developed with a larger laminar flow area from
the ceiling and an extra exhaust to stabilize the air flow (Schaelin 2000).
The situation in figure 7 shows a very large exhaust hood (height 8m) for a waste disposal hall. In
the previous situation the waste unloading process caused a strong dust distribution in the delivery hall.
When a truck unloaded a dusty waste load, a transient high momentum jet developed towards the ceiling
and lead to bad working conditions. A proper exhaust design was developed in virtual 3-dimensional
simulation models, ending at a realized solution with excellent working conditions. The good efficiency
is due to the exhaust rate and to the large buffer space which allows the fastly developing dust cloud to
propagate and to slow down sufficiently before escaping to the hall (Schaelin 2002).
High momentum
dust source
Local exhaust
Buffer space

Expansion of
dust cloud
Figure 7: Unloading process in waste disposal hall. A high momentum dust expansion lead to strong dust
contamination in the hall. Using the optimized solution the dust cloud is now confined in the hood space.
5 Conclusions
In real situations with complex requirements regarding geometry, handling or working process under
strong disturbances, the simple application of the basic ventilation concepts is often not sufficient to
obtain a satisfactory contaminant control and it is necessary to develop more sophisticated solutions.
The application of numerical CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulations for real complex
situations has been found already many times in many applications to be very useful for real situations.
The real power of CFD simulations is in fact the possibility of the treatment of complex flow situation
with interaction of various influences. In all the cases described, several expensive experimental trials
had been tried out before with very little success, proving the effectiveness of CFD investigation
particularly in the early design stage but also all the way along the development process (the design
ideas still have to come from the engineer).
Gubler D., Moser A., Sprecher P., Rueegg Th.: Reinforced exhaust system Local ventilation system
with enhanced capture range, ROOMVENT 2002, 8th Int. Conference, Sept 7-11, Copenhagen.
Industrial Ventilation Design Guidebook, Chapters 8-10 ,2001. Academic Press, San Diego (USA)
Schlin, A.: "Comfort problems and energy losses at shop entrances, - field investigations and numerical
simulations", ROOMVENT 1998, 6th International Conference, June 1998, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden.
Schlin, A.; Wirth, A.: Computer simulations of air flows in critical clean room areas. PDA
Conference Regulatory and Technological Challenges for One World, Basel, Switzerland, 2000.
Schlin, A.: Exhaust systems for dust and smoke design optimization by CFD and realization,
ROOMVENT 2002, 8th International Conference, Sept 7-11, Copenhagen.
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