You are on page 1of 5

Information Sheet IS24 Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)

Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)

The control of potentially hazardous airborne contaminants such as dusts, gases, vapours and fumes,
etc. can be accomplished by capturing and removing the contaminant at or near its source or point
of generation, thus preventing the release of the contaminant into the workroom.
1. Components of a LEV
A local exhaust system usually includes
• Hoods or enclosures to capture the air contaminant.
• Ductwork leading to an exhaust fan to transport the contaminant.
• A collection unit for particulate contaminants, or an air cleaning device for gases before
discharge to the outside air.
There must be an adequate supply of make-up air to replace that removed by the LEV, or the
room will have a negative air pressure and decrease the efficiency of the LEV system.

1.1 Glossary of Terms

Capture Velocity The air velocity at a point within or in front of an exhaust hood necessary
to overcome opposing air currents and particle inertia, causing the
contaminated air to flow into the hood.
Damper A device for restricting the airflow in a duct.
Exhaust Rate The volumetric rate at which air is removed.
Static Pressure • The difference between the absolute pressure in an exhaust system
and atmospheric pressure.
• It produces the initial air velocity.
• It overcomes the resistance in a system caused by friction of the air
against duct walls.
• It overcomes turbulence or shock caused by a change in direction or
velocity of air movement.
• Is usually negative (less than atmospheric) ‘upstream’ of a fan and
positive ‘downstream’ of a fan.
These notes are published as an information service and without assuming a duty of care. They contain general
information only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional or legal advice.

Information Sheet IS24 Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)

Transport Velocity The velocity required to prevent the settling of a contaminant from an
airstream, usually related to the flow of air in a duct
1.2 Energy Losses
Air in motion encounters resistance along any surface confining the flowing air volume, and some of
the energy of the air is lost by conversion to heat in overcoming this resistance. Friction losses
increase with
• Increasing roughness of the surface walls.
• Increasing length of ducting.
• Increasing air velocity.
• Decreasing diameter of ducting.
Energy is also lost from air flowing turbulently - these are termed dynamic losses. Turbulence is
caused by changes in direction in a duct ie. elbows and angles. The pressure drop in a duct system
due to dynamic losses increases with the number of elbows or angles. For example, air passing
through an elbow of 30cm diameter and 60cm centreline radius will lose as much energy as is lost
through over 500cm of straight pipe.
Turbulence of air also increases with changes in velocity. The velocity of a given air mass is inversely
proportional to the cross-sectional area of the duct so that as cross-sectional area of a duct increases,
velocity decreases (and vice versa).
Turbulence also occurs when air is accelerated from rest to enter a duct or opening.
2. Properties of airborne materials
2.1 Dusts
Dusts are solid particles generated by handling, crushing, grinding and detonation of materials such
as rock, metal and wood. Dust particles vary widely in size, with the finer particles (< 20 microns)
remaining airborne for long periods. Dust particles < 5 microns can reach the lungs.
2.2 Fumes
Fumes are small solid particles created by condensation from the gaseous state, generally after the
application of heat to substances or by chemical reaction such as oxidation. Most fumes are usually
submicronic in size, and have a tendency to flocculate and coalesce into long chains or clumps.
2.3 Vapours
Vapours are the gaseous forms of substances which are normally in the liquid or solid state and
which can be changed to these states either by increasing the pressure or decreasing the temperature.
2.4 Gases
Gases are normally compressible, formless fluids which occupy the space of their enclosure and
which can be changed to the liquid or solid state only by the effect of increased pressure and
decreased temperature or both.

These notes are published as an information service and without assuming a duty of care. They contain general
information only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional or legal advice.

Information Sheet IS24 Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)

3. Design and Function of Components of an LEV system

3.1 Hoods
A hood is a structure designed to enclose or partially enclose a contaminant-producing operation
and to guide airflow in an efficient manner to capture a contaminant. The hood is connected to the
ventilation system via a duct which removes the contaminant from the hood. The design and
location of the hood is critical in determining the success of a LEV.
Exhaust hoods are designed to work in one of two ways: (1) they can induce an air movement
which draws the contaminant into the hood or (2) they can enclose the contaminant source and
induce an air movement which prevents the contaminant from escaping the enclosure. Before
designing a hood, several principles should be considered:
• An attempt should be made to minimise or eliminate all air motion in the area of the
contaminant source. This will reduce the amount of air needed to be exhausted and
subsequently reduce system power and equipment requirements.
• Air currents which necessarily exist should be utilised by the hood wherever possible.
• The hood should enclose the process as much as possible without endangering worker’s
• When enclosure is impractical, the hood should be located as close to the contaminant
source as possible. The air velocity created by an exhaust hood varies inversely with the
square of the distance for all but long slot-type hoods.
• The hood should be located so that the contaminant is removed away from the breathing
zone of the worker.
3.2 Ductwork
Ductwork provides a channel for flow of the contaminated air exhausted from the hood to the
point of discharge. If the air contains dust, the duct velocity must be high enough to prevent the
dust from settling out and plugging the ductwork. The location and construction of the ductwork
must provide sufficient protection against external damage and corrosion, but be accessible for
servicing and maintenance.
Pressure is lost when air travels through various fittings such as elbows and branches in an exhaust
system. A few guidelines for the design of ductwork to minimise the pressure losses are:
• Main ducts should be arranged in such a way that smaller branches enter the main duct near
the high suction end ie. Closer to the fan inlet.
• Long runs of small diameter duct should be avoided.
• Extending an exhaust system to reach an isolated hood increases fan power consumption -
to avoid this problem, it may be more economical to install a separate system for that hood.
• If possible, locate the fan near the middle of an array of exhaust hoods rather than at one
• If long rows of equipment are to be served, the main header duct should be located near
the middle of the system to equalise runs of branch duct.
• Ductwork should be located so that it is readily accessible for inspection, cleaning and
• Ductwork should be placed so as to avoid mechanical damage.
3.3 Fans
These notes are published as an information service and without assuming a duty of care. They contain general
information only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional or legal advice.

Information Sheet IS24 Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)

Air is moved through the ductwork by a motor-driven fan. There are two major types of fans used
in industrial ventilation:

• Axial flow types where the airflow is parallel to the fan shaft.

• Centrifugal flow types, where the airflow is perpendicular to the fan shaft.
Although axial fans tend to be more efficient in moving large volumes of air, centrifugal fans tend
to be quieter and can operate at higher static pressures, and are more commonly found in LEV
systems. Wherever practicable, a fan should be placed downstream from the collector so that it will
handle clean air.

3.4 Air Cleaner

Most exhaust systems for contaminants other than hot air need an air cleaner to ensure the quality of
the air leaving the LEV meets local emission control standards, and is not discharging pollutants into
the atmosphere.
4. Airflow characteristics
The flow characteristics of air at an exhaust (or suction) opening are very different from those at the
discharge (or blowing) opening. When air is blown from a small opening, the velocity thirty
diameters in front of the plane of the opening is about 10 percent of the velocity of the discharge.
The same reduction in velocity is achieved at a much smaller distance in exhaust openings, such that
the velocity equals 10 percent of the face velocity ie. suction is much less efficient than blowing. This
can be verified by placing the hand 30cm away from the suction nozzle of a vacuum cleaner and the
discharge outlet, and comparing the difference in air current. For this reason, exhaust hoods must be
placed as close as possible to the source of contaminant generation, otherwise the contaminant is
unlikely to even enter the LEV system.

Flanges surrounding a hood opening force air to flow mostly from the zone directly in front of the
hood. The addition of a flange to an open duct or pipe improves the efficiency of the duct or hood
for a distance of about one diameter.

These notes are published as an information service and without assuming a duty of care. They contain general
information only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional or legal advice.

Information Sheet IS24 Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)

4.1 Duct Velocity

The air velocity for transporting dusts and fumes through ductwork must be high enough that the
particles will not settle and plug the ducts. This minimum velocity (transport velocity) is typically 18
to 20 metres per second. At these velocities, frictional loss from air moving along the surface of the
ducts becomes significant; therefore all fittings such as elbows and branches must be wide-swept,
gradual and with smooth interior surfaces. The cross-sectional area of the main duct generally
should equal the sum of the areas of cross-sections for all branches upstream, plus a safety factor of
approximately 20 percent. When the main duct is enlarged to accommodate an additional branch,
the connection should be tapered and not abrupt. The angle of entry of the branch duct should be
between 30° and 45° to ensure air flow does not become turbulent.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (US) The Industrial Environment - its
Evaluation and Control 1973
Alden, JL and Kane, JM Design of Industrial Ventilation Systems 5th edition 1982

These notes are published as an information service and without assuming a duty of care. They contain general
information only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional or legal advice.