The Department of Chemistry, Cambridge University.

The Department of Chemistry is located in the centre of Cambridge and is home to a large number of internationally recognised research groups, 200 postdoctoral research staff, over 250 postgraduate students and 60 academic staff.

Project Overview

Wind Responsive Fume Extraction.

Fox Associates was appointed as lead consultant project managers for an innovative project to dramatically reduce the energy consumption of the department and assist the University in its extensive carbon footprint reduction activities.

We programmed and coordinated the complicated project and provided design and planning services for the installation of external monitoring equipment.

The Chemistry building’s exhaust stacks, for its fume cupboards, were historically designed to run at a constant flow rate to discharge toxic or odorous fumes away from the building and surrounding environment.

Depending on weather conditions however, it is possible to still effectively discharge fumes but at much lower fan speeds through a Variable Air Volume (VAV) exhaust flow system and hence reduce energy usage.

The VAV project at the Department of Chemistry, whilst common in the United States had only been adopted at one other UK university previously.

Working with U.S. based wind engineering and air quality consultants (CPP) and UK based mechanical and electrical engineers (KJ Tait) the university implemented an evaluation and subsequent installation project adopting a VAV exhaust system to its fume cupboards over a 2 year phased period.

The project required extensive wind tunnel modelling of the Chemistry building, local built environment and meteorological information from city wide receptors to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposals.

Once successfully evaluated a programme of plant and equipment upgrades was implemented including the installation of a new 10m high on-site anemometer to monitor local wind conditions.

An extensive programme of pre-functional testing was required before implementation of the VAV system.

Post completion and in use evaluation has demonstrated substantial energy savings (in excess of £100k per annum) by the adoption of this innovative system of fume extraction.

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