Nalco Chemical Laboratory

Existing building retrofit: Nalco Chemical Laboratory; Redding Linden Burr Inc.


Project name: Nalco Chemical Laboratory

Location: Sugar Land, Texas

Firm name: Redding Linden Burr Inc.

Project type, building type: Existing building retrofit, research/lab/high-tech

Project duration: 2 years

Project completion date: April 29, 2008

Project budget for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection engineering only: $150,000

Engineering challenges

Engineering challenges faced on this laboratory conversion included: exhaust for 104 independently controlled chemical fume hoods in laboratory space; conversion of existing office space into laboratory space; and incorporating exhaust fans for chemical fume hoods.


The engineering solutions used to resolve the three issues were as follows. The MEP system was designed to support 104 chemical fume hoods with an airflow lab tracking control system, with combination fume hood sash control to maintain proper lab pressurization control. The project converted existing office space on the second floor of a three-story structure to two chemistry laboratories with 36 fume hoods similar to the arrangement of the existing first-floor laboratory, which also has 36 fume hoods. In addition to this second- and first-floor labs, the mechanical system was sized for 18 future fume hoods in the existing training room area on the second floor, and 14 future fume hoods directly below on the first floor. The majority of the existing air handler equipment was reutilized; however, a new air handler with a capacity of 38,400 cfm needed to be included in the design to serve the exhaust requirements and additional first-floor fume hood requirements. New exhaust fans on the roof were sized to accommodate the new fume hoods on the second floor, the existing fume hoods on the first floor, and the future hoods described above. The chiller and boiler plants were modified to serve the air handling modifications and expansion to the laboratory. The exhaust fans consist of a fan assembly with five laboratory dilution fans with a total capacity of 100,000 cfm tying in all new and existing exhaust ducts to the manifold of the new fan assembly and demolishing the existing fans. The design incorporates ductwork for the future fume hoods.

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