Lab Hazard Mitigation With User-Centric CFD Analysis

Nathaniel Jones, Arup

Airflow in chemical labs must be precisely controlled to prevent keep chemical fumes out of the breathing zone and prevent contaminants from settling on work surfaces. For fume hoods, ASHRAE 110 specifies testing procedures to verify containment, which can be carried out only after the equipment is ordered and installed. We apply a trust-but-verify system using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to simulate fume hood operation and demonstrate safety during the architectural design of lab spaces.

In several case studies (a compounding pharmacy and a university teaching chemistry lab), we use this technique to select appropriate equipment and ensure compliance with ASHRAE 110 tests. Our technique integrates building information modeling (BIM) data, allowing us to coordinate with the design of lab furniture, room air supply, and lighting. With this integration, we can also directly access thermal comfort modeling that accounts for age, gender, and clothing variation through the same tools that we use to demonstrate lab hazard mitigation.

Learning Objectives

  • Become familiar with issues of chemical containment and contamination issues in labs;
  • Learn how airflow modeling in a digital twin environment can predict and prevent containment issues;
  • Understand the value of integrated design of lab equipment, air supply, and lighting; and
  • Discover how equitable thermal comfort design can be applied to lab spaces.


Dr. Nathaniel Jones is a leading expert in visual and thermal comfort, air quality, daylight, microclimate, and COVID-19 disinfection. He is a senior building scientist at Arup, an architecture professor at Wentworth, and an IBPSA-USA board member. He has written over 20 peer-reviewed papers on occupant health, comfort, and building energy use.


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