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TeamSafety Case Study : Convert Ducted Fume Hood to Ductless Fume Hood

Project Profile :

Customer D is from pharmaceutical industry located in Malaysia

Challenges :

They owned 5 units of old malfunction ducted fume hoods. 2 units are for acid handling, and 3 units are for solvents.  These fume hoods have failed their LEV performance test.   

The customer do not wish to have chimney appeal outside of their building and want to lower the energy consumption of the laboratory, at the same time provide maximum safety to their laboratory users. 


Solution :

Proposal to convert the 5 units of ducted fume hoods to Erlab’s ductless fume hoods using the existing base cabinets.   


Erlab’s ductless fume hood is prefect solution :

1. When the building has no way to provide “make-up air” into the lab to replace exhausted air.

2. When the laboratory has no structural access to install ductwork.

3. When the laboratory lacks funding for extra ductwork.

4. When the laboratory has no intention to compliance to DOE’s Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Reg. 

5. When the cost of building infrastructure to retrofit an existing laboratory with a new fume hood is prohibitive.

6. When the laboratory management wish to save energy and operation cost in long run. 

7. When the laboratory is going for sustainable environmental friendly and to be accredited for green building index/certification. 


Mission :

  • To remove and dispose the 5 units of existing ducted fume hoods
  • To reuse the existing laboratory bench, and build on top of these benches the new ductless fume hoods
  • To avoid using chimney outside the building, the ductless fume hoods are selected.  Prior to implementation, Valiquest chemical assessments are performed to ensure the ductless fume hoods fit-the-purpose and the application is validated. 
  • To ensure we accomplish the project within the shortest time, to reduce the laboratory down time to not more than 3 days. 

i. ESP (Erlab Safety Program) : Chemical assessment and application validation

When the customer first approached us, we do not immediately provide the quotation, because we want to ensure the ductless filtration system we proposed could bring maximum safety to users and fit-for-purpose.     

Erlab, France, the inventor of the Ductless Fume Hood,  provides free chemical assessment and application validation service.  The program is called ESP (Erlab Safety Program).   The customer provided the information about intended application, chemicals list and frequency of use via a Valiquest From.   We submit the information to Erlab R&D Laboratory at France.   The validation were done based on the retention capacity of the molecular carbon filter, for each individual chemical.   If the ductless fume hood is suitable to be utilised for the application, an ESP certificate will be given.  For this particular case, all 5 units of fume hood have got the ESP certificates and approval.   We proceed to quote to customer with the configuration and filter type recommended by the ESP certificate. 


ESP Certificate is a safety document issued by Erlab to validate customer application. The certificate contains information about type & configuration of the filters, filter estimated lifespan and sensor type used to detect the filter saturation point.  If the filter lifespan is less than 6 months, Erlab will not approved the application.   

▶︎  Erlab’s List of Approved Chemicals

ii. Removal and disposal of old fume hoods

Duration : Half day during weekend

Once we received the order from customer, our disposal team inspected the premise to ensure proper safety measures are followed, and communicated with the facility manager. 

To prevent interruption to the laboratory schedule, we proceed the removal and disposal during the weekend. The removal work were done by an experience team. All 5 units of ducted fume hoods were taken down piece by piece and the centrifugal fans are removed. We also removed the old phenolic resinate worktop, but maintained the existing base cabinet of the fume hoods. The whole removal and disposal exercise were done without affecting the rest of the laboratory area. Our team is very efficient, it only took us half day to fully removed and disposed the 5 units of fume hoods.    


iii. Installation of ductless fume hoods on the existing base cabinet

Duration : 1 working day

The actual installation has only taken one working day. It took half day for the electrician to fix the wiring and the sockets. Our installation team, started our installation on 2:30 pm. We put on a new epoxy table worktop, followed by set up the Erlab’s model 483 Smart of 4 feet ductless fume hoods.   Erlab’s ductless fume hood came in ready-to-assemble packing (IKEA-like knock down furniture). We assembled the 5 units of ductless fume hoods piece by piece in less than 2 hours. By 4:45 pm, all 5 units of ductless fume hoods were connected to power supply, and the installation team proceed to calibrate and commission the fume hoods using laptop and Erlab proprietary eGuard Software. The 5 units of new ductless fume hoods were ready by 5:45 pm. 

The following morning, we proceed to provide users training and also performed the DOSH compliance LEV testing. We trained the users the proper procedures to use the fume hood, on how to perform the scheduled inspection on the system and trouble-shooting steps when the sensor alarm been triggered.    The process has taken 1 and a half hour. By 10 am the brand new ductless fume hoods were put into operation immediately. 




Output :

We accomplished our mission of converting 5 units of ducted fume hoods to ductless fume hoods in less than 2 full working days. Customer is happy with the outcome and they are glad that they made the decision to convert the old ducted fume hood to ductless fume hood. Customer started using these ductless fume hood since 2017 until now. They could testify the following benefits, after using the 5 units of ductless fume hoods:-

  1. The cost of electrical bill reduced tremendously. They save at least RM 600-800 electrical bill per unit of fume hood per month. The cost saving is because ductless fume hood does not exhaust the air-conditions air and discharge it outside. The energy consumption to continuously cool down the laboratory reduced significantly.
  2. Ductless fume hood does not required ductwork and chimney, hence, the customer saves the time and money to compliance with DOE’s Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Reg.  Even though, using ductless fume hood required to replace the molecular carbon filters at a typical interval of 12 months (during annual preventive maintenance).  The cost of filter replacement is negligible if compare with the cost of electrical bill and compliance cost.   
  3. Erlab’s ductless fume hood is reliable and easy to maintain. The system is maintenance free.  During annual preventive maintenance, the vendor will change the filter, perform saturation test & LEV test, and also the disposal of used filters.   
  4. The Erlab Smart Technology allows traceability of the history events of the system. Build in sensors, allow automatic detection of air face velocity, and monitor fan speed, filter lifespan and etc. These active safety will alert users when anything went wrong with visual and audio alert system, because user safety is our priority. 



Conclusion :

Ductless fume hood is a viable alternative to the ducted fume hood, because its provide obvious benefits like energy savings, smart sensor technology and also bring maximum safety to the users.    The general impression about ductless fume hood requires high cost to replace filter is just not the whole truth.   The cost-efficient ductless fume hood could reduced electricity bill and elimination of compliance cost for DOE Chimney license. It has also proven the filter replacement cost for ductless fume hood is really negligible.    

Nevertheless, to choose a competence ductless fume hood manufacturers and service provider (local agent) are the two factors need to be considered when you purchase a ductless fume hood.  We are glad that we have helped this D customer to achieve their goals, and they are benefiting from their decision to convert these 5 units of ducted fume hoods into ductless fume hoods.

Contact us for onsite assessment via email ( or whatsapp us at +6019 302 5108.