Modular Air Filtration Technology

Source: Clean Air America, Inc.
Clean Air America's modular air filtration brings latest industry standards to welding training facilities, enhancing health & safety while keeping facilities spotless for years to come

Clean Air America's modular air filtration brings latest industry standards to welding training facilities, enhancing health & safety while keeping facilities spotless for years to come. The configuration of Clean Air America's welding stations typically consists of modular units and patented dust collectors to completely filter and return the air to the welding lab, providing a substantial savings due to the reduction in energy consumption. Because the system is engineered to draw smoke, dust and aerosols as near as possible to the source, a cleaner, healthier and safer environment is maintained. The firm uses 3D CAD software to design, pre- engineer and engineer a total project, enabling precision drawings and accurate lead times.

While segments of the welding industry have seen a lot of automation in recent years, welding jobs are still plentiful. Accordingly, welding training has never been more popular in high school as well as trade, technical and college programs. In order to provide the latest welding methods, as well as protect students from unnecessary exposure hazardous emissions, many of these facilities are installing the latest concept in air filtration systems: the modular air cleaning system.

"There is naturally a great concern about the exposure of students to gases and impurities that occur in the welding shop," says Mark McClure, who teaches welding as part of the agricultural sciences program at the Ninth Grade Center of Waxahachie High School (Waxahachie TX). "We are also concerned that we provide training that introduces students to modern welding methods, so that they are better qualified to go into the field when the time comes."

Throughout industry, modern welding methods, especially in indoor environments, include the installation of modular welding stations that include highly efficient individual air filtration systems. These advanced workstations address crucial health and safety issues, and also provide a much more efficient work environment, reduced maintenance efforts, and often save on increasing heating and air conditioning costs.

Waxahachie goes modular

Three years ago, when Waxahachie High School (located on the southern outskirts of Dallas) was on the verge of overcrowding, the school district decided to build a separate facility for freshmen, the Ninth Grade Center. This expansion provided Mark McClure the opportunity to design and build a state-of-the-art welding shop to support the school's agricultural sciences program.

"I looked at a lot of marketing and reference material on items we might consider for the shop," McClure says. "My father taught ag sciences, including welding, for over 30 years, so I had grown up in the business and was very excited about looking at improved systems for our new facility. Then I noticed some information on welding stations with enclosed ventilation, from Clean Air America. On paper, this looked like a very good concept, so I wanted to look at a real installation."

Because there were no school installations nearby, Clean Air America flew McClure and the school's Vocational Director to its main plant in Rome, GA. After a factory tour and hands-on view of the equipment, he knew that this system was the right one for the new Ninth Grade Center welding shop.

"I had talked to people in the industry, and they said old standard welding vent hoods never really worked," he explains. "There were so many fumes and exhaust gases and the plume from the welding would fill the shops, which was not healthy. Plus, all the shops became dingy from that. So, I was convinced that the modular system would maintain healthy, clean air for the students to breath, and would also keep the shop clean."

McClure recommended to the school board that 10 Clean Air America units be purchased for the new welding shop. He told the board that without a doubt this was the best system for the facility and the students. "They were very supportive," says McClure. "Three of the board members went through the ag program all right here at Waxahachie, so they had a good appreciation of the benefits for the students, and they really appreciated our research on the optimum ventilation system as well as the other aspects of the shop design."

McClure's excitement about the new welding workstations dampened a bit when his crew experienced power system incompatibilities at the installation stage. It seems that somehow an incompatible power supply was specified. "I was a bit worried about it," he says. "I figured that these days most manufacturers would say, 'You bought 'em, you own 'em.' But Clean Air America immediately put a technician on a plane and he took care of the problem right away. Everything has worked great ever since."

From a cost standpoint, McClure says the school was willing to spend the money on a system that would offer the students current technology that promised to give them a good working environment and would also last for many years. "The average welding shop ventilation system - even the 1950s type hood and vent system -is certainly not cheap, although the initial purchase price may be somewhat less expensive than the new technology. But once you consider the health and safety aspects, the modular system becomes a no-brainer. Plus, our shop has been running for two years now and it still looks brand new. There's not a speck of welding soot on any part of the building because it's all consumed by the ventilation equipment."

McClure adds that the Ninth Grade Center has not had to service welding workstation ventilation filters in two years. "They are holding up great," he says. "We have done no repairs or maintenance whatsoever."

He adds that when he was teaching welding at the 10–12-grade shop, where he had conventional ventilation, a couple of students got sick from the fumes. "Naturally, their parents were concerned about what we were welding, what type of metal we were using," he explains. "With this new system I have run 185 kids in a class in a year and we haven't had one complaint about fumes or any illness."

A growth trend in training facilities

Bertil Brahm, president of Clean Air America amplifies the point. "Aside from health and safety, the primary reason why schools and technical centers are upgrading their ventilation systems is to give the students state-of-the-art training with a system that will be useful for a long time," he says. "After all, it is their purpose to provide a useful education, so I don't think a school or training center should lag behind the industry in the equipment and methods it uses."

SOURCE: Clean Air America, Inc.