Berkeley Lab's High Performance Fume Hood Reduces Energy Use by 50 Percent

November 11, 2003

Photo of prototype high performance berkeley hood.

Prototype High Performance Berkeley Hood installed at the University of California, San Francisco.

More than 500,000 fume hoods are used in the United States by high-tech industries, hospitals, universities, and research facilities to help keep workers safe; but the devices can use a lot of energy-a single fume hood running 24 hours per day uses as much energy as three entire houses. New energy-efficient fume hood technology developed by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is expected to reduce the energy-intensive demands of laboratory ventilation systems. Berkeley Laboratory's promising new fume hood technology reduces airflow requirements by 50 to 70 percent while maintaining or even enhancing worker safety. The new technology has been demonstrated successfully in testing at Berkeley Laboratory and at the University of California, San Francisco's Department of Pathology.

Berkeley Laboratory researchers estimate that the new technology could save 8,000 gigawatthours of electricity in the United States. The annual electricity cost savings per hood is about $2,100. "This invention improves user safety while reducing both energy use and the size of mechanical systems required to provide adequate heating, ventilation, and cooling," said Berkeley Laboratory's Dale Sartor, one of the fume hood's developers and Heat of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division's Application Team.

Fume hoods are box-like structures often mounted at tabletop level with a movable window-like front called a sash. The devices capture, contain, and exhaust hazardous fumes created during industrial processes or laboratory experiments. Generally, fumes are drawn out of a hood by fans through a port at the top of the hood. The energy to filer, move, cool, or heat, and in some cases scrub (clean) this air is one of the largest loads in most laboratory facilities.

The patented Berkeley Laboratory design uses a "push-pull" approach to contain fumes and exhaust them from the hood. Small supply fans located at the top and bottom of the hood's face push air into the hood and into the user's breathing zone, setting up a "divider" of air at the sash. The air divider helps prevent fumes from reaching a user standing in front of the hood. Consequently, the exhaust fan can be operated at a much lower flow. The new design has reduced the flow down to 30 percent of a typical hood installation. "Fume hoods typically requires large exhaust flows are are usually never turned off, so they use a tremendous amount of energy both in fan power and in heated and cooled room air," said co-developer Geoffrey Bell. "The hood could save industrial facilities hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy and initial costs of construction."

The prototype high-performance fume hood installation at the University of California's, San Francisco laboratory is one of three prototypes currently being tested in the United States. "We are thrilled with the success of this field test," Mr. Sartor said. "We are working with industry partners to continue the development and refinement of the technology." He added that before the new hoods can be widely applied, institutional and regulatory barriers also need to be overcome. Tek-Air, a leading laboratory controls company, is planning to introduce a commercial version of the Berkeley High-Performance Fume Hood later this year.

The high-performance technology was developed by Helmut Feustel and Bell. The team includes Sartor, Chris Buchanan, Darryl Dickerhoff, William Fisk, and Doug Sullivan.

The demonstration and field-testing of the high-performance fume hood was funded by Pacific Gas & Electric. Research and development of the technology was supported by DOE, the California Energy Commission, and the California Institute for Energy Efficiency.

For more information, see or please contact Geoffrey Bell of LBNL at 510-486-4626 or or Dale Sartor of LBNL at 510-486-5988 or