In 2004, construction of the 203,000-sq-ft Kansas Life Sciences Innovation Center began on The University of Kansas Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kan. The five-story building was to house 80 state-of-the-art biosafety laboratories used by physicians and scientists conducting a wide range of medical research. Adjoining laboratories were to be set up along the north side of the building on all five floors and in the center of the building. There were to be several common laboratory areas where researchers could share equipment and collaborate.
The tremendous amount of laboratory work that would be taking place at the facility on any given day necessitated that a powerful exhaust system be specified, one that would reliably and efficiently remove and dilute large volumes of fumes high above the surrounding campus and neighborhoods and require relatively little maintenance. Additionally, rooftop ventilation systems were not to detract from the building's appearance.
Twelve Vektor-MD mixed-flow high-plume dilution blowers from Greenheck were selected and installed based on performance capabilities, ease of installation, competitive pricing, and a low-profile, uniform appearance.
Vektor-MDs are self-contained exhaust systems designed for hospital, pharmaceutical, university, biotechnology, and other laboratory applications. They employ a unique discharge-nozzle design that entrains additional ambient air to help dilute laboratory-exhaust fumes and expel them high above a building.
Two sizes of Vektor-MDs — 14.25-ft-high Size 27 units and 16-ft-high Size 36 units — were selected to discharge air volumes of 41,000 cfm and 84,000 cfm and achieve plume heights of 47 ft and 56 ft, respectively. As a result, diluted fumes discharged from the laboratories do not contaminate the building's roof, re-enter makeup-air systems, or drift down into surrounding neighborhoods.
The 12 Vektor-MD units, which can accommodate the 80 laboratories even when all are in use at once, were installed on top of a rooftop penthouse screen that houses other HVAC equipment. Although somewhat difficult to reach, the units will require minimal maintenance and only routine motor replacement. Servicing the motors will be safe and easy because components are easily accessible outside of exhaust-air streams.
Construction of the building was completed in 2007.
According to Don Rau, the director of facilities management for The University of Kansas Medical Center, building managers and researchers are pleased with the performance of the Vektor-MD exhaust systems.
“The Vektor fans … certainly have performed well since the opening of the facility,” Rau said. “There have been no operational or performance issues. At this point, we would use the appropriate Vektor fans in any new research construction.”
With the mixed-flow-impeller technology of the Vektor-MD units, energy consumption and overall sound levels are much lower than they would be with more-traditional custom-built laboratory exhaust systems. For instance, a mixed-flow blower operating at 50,000 cfm and 4 in. wg has a static efficiency of 71 percent and sound power of 92 dB, compared with 60 percent and 98 dB and 59 percent and 111 dB with an inline centrifugal fan and a vane-axial fan, respectively.