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Comparing Performance of Ventilation Control Designs for High Containment Laboratories

Jim Coogan, Siemens Building Technology

Performance of space pressurization designs for high containment (BSL-3 and BSL-4) laboratories was studied through a combination of mock-up tests and dynamic simulation models. Performance data for several pressurization systems are presented. Variations include the type of air valves, the type of air flow sensors, and the control sequence and tightness of the laboratory envelope. The study concentrated on solutions currently favored for high containment laboratories. Comparing the results will help designers select a pressurization system appropriate to the hazards and requirements of a particular space.

Using dynamic computer models along with tests on a physical mock-up greatly enhances the utility of each tool. The mock-up results refine and verify the model. The model extends the range and flexibility of the mock-up tests.

Labs21 Connection:

Lab designers are aware of their pressurization options and of general guidelines for selection. They lack design data that they can use to apply the solution most appropriate to the lab at hand. These results will help designers quantify anticipated performance. As such, it gives engineers the terms to discuss pressurization with the safety professionals focused on risk assessment.


Jim Coogan, P.E., is a Senior Principal in product development and applications for Siemens Building Technologies. He has 25 years experience designing microprocessor-based controls for mechanical systems, with 15 of those spent in the HVAC industry. Jim has served as chairman of ASHRAE Technical Committee 1.4 Controls and has been an active member of TC 9.8 Laboratory Systems. Publications include technical papers on room pressurization and laboratory system commissioning. He has participated in development of HVAC control products ranging from simple room controllers to Internet-based operator interfaces. Jim earned his S.B. in mechanical engineering at MIT in 1980.

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