Laboratory and Medical
Lab and Medical Industrial Vacuum Systems are generally designed as Centralized Vacuum Systems.
Lab Vacuum Systems
Laboratory vacuum systems are used to maintain vacuum for multiple laboratory outlets (5 to >2000 outlets) from a central location. The industrial vacuum system for lab equipment will come in contact with solvent vapors and biologics from the labs.
Vacuum levels for lab equipment are typically maintained between 18 – 27”HgV, although there are a number of High Vacuum Systems which provide a second level of vacuum at higher than 29”HgV (typically 5-15 Torr).
Medical Vacuum Systems
Medical Vacuum Systems are used to maintain vacuum for patient beds, surgical suites, neo-natal suites, etc., from a central location. These industrial vacuum systems will primarily come in contact with water vapor, biologics, and possibly anesthesia gases. Vacuum levels typically are maintained between 15-26”HgV, with requirements for dental applications in the 10-14″HgV range. These industrial central vacuum systems are required to meet NFPA-99 design requirements.
Medical Vacuum Systems typically include 2, 3, or 4 pumps (one of the vacuum pumps being an installed spare) with a vacuum receiver tank and control panel.
Considerations for Lab/Medical Centralized Vacuum Systems
- Reliability: Vacuum pumps by definition, ingest process vapors into the pump. Reliability of any type of pump depends upon many factors which are different for each type of pump. For example, water Liquid Ring Vacuum pumps are generally very reliable because they can ingest vapors, liquids, and soft solids without damage to the pump. However, if the available water is hard, then after about a year, lime deposits in the pump will affect reliability. Rotary vane reliability is a function of how well inlet filters are maintained and the frequency of oil changes (~1/month). Oil Sealed Vmax is a good choice because it gives the liquid ring advantages without the water problems.
- Initial Cost: Most of the vacuum systems are at approximately the same initial cost level, except the dry pumps which are considerably more expensive.
- Water/sewer utility cost: Water-sealed pumps with water to drain has this added utility cost. 1 gpm of water is more than 500,000 gal/year. Air-cooled vacuum pumps have no water cost.
- Water Quality: Hard water affects water sealed pumps reliability and maintenance costs. Maintenance costs: rotary vane pumps require regular oil changes every 500 hrs or about 1/month. Water sealed pumps have the lowest maintenance cost, unless you have hard water. Vmax liquid ring pumps require oil changes every 10,000 hours or about once per year. Dry pumps require gear oil changes every year, and major overhaul every couple of years.
Bio-Hazard: closed loop water pumps, in a biological lab, can pose a significant safety hazard to maintenance personnel, because the warm moist environment is a haven for biological growth.
Auto-ignition: Vapor auto-ignition temperatures are a safety concern if using dry vacuum pumps. Some dry pumps have internal temperatures of over 500°F which can cause vapor ignition (fire/explosion).