Huntair, GE attempt to turn the tables on FFU thinking


CORVALIS, Ore.—If the future of fan filter units (FFU) is one that includes much greater energy efficiency, then two companies appear to be on the right path. Huntair and GE Industrial Systems recently unveiled what they dub the "next generation fan filter unit system" in a 750-sqaure-foot cleanroom at Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.

According to the companies, this system can provide 70 percent energy savings as compared to FFUs currently on the market.

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Oregon-based Huntair, Inc., a manufacturer of cleanroom components and industrial air handlers, designed the cleanroom and produced the 31 ceiling-mounted AF 300 FFUs used to maintain positive airflow. Each FFU is powered by a high-efficiency, variable-speed GE ECM 2.3 series motor.

GE Fanuc Automation provided the programmable-logic controllers and Cimplicity system software to run the units. Performance Contracting, Inc. (PCI) built the interior envelope of the room and, like the other three companies, donated products and/or services to the project.

According to Huntair and GE Industrial Systems, the key to this FFU is unique construction technique combined with fractional horsepower motors used to drive the fans. The differentiating design element was removing the baffle from inside the FFU. By using a backward curved air foil wheel without the baffle, Huntair greatly reduced the amount of resistance inside the FFU, which, in turn, produced a unit with an inherently greater efficiency profile.

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This new design was then combined with a fractional horsepower GE ECM brushless-DC motor. According to GE, the ECM 2.3 has all of its speed and torque controls built in a microprocessor that allows the motor to be programmed at the factory or on site, and controlled remotely. Both companies say that even greater efficiencies can be found in this FFU if it is used at lower flow rates.

For more information on the cleanroom Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences go to: