Gilberts helps deliver an ideal environment for world-leading chemistry research

Providing a pioneering working environment for a Regius professor and his team has been assured at University of Liverpool through state of the art ventilation.

The University’s world-leading chemistry department has been awarded a Regius Chair – one of only 26 bestowed since the reign of Queen Victoria. The accolade recognises the University’s high quality teaching and research, that have established it as the #1 in the UK. In honour of the royal award, the University has invested £3.5m in the refurbishment of an existing laboratory to create a state of the art environment for the Chair, Professor John Bower, and his team.

Central to the new facility is the ventilation, to create a safe working environment. M&E consultant Steven A Hunt worked closely with A & B Engineering and Gilberts Blackpool to ensure efficient removal of internal air and supply of fresh air, balancing the air requirements of staff with effective extract of fumes arising from the research work.

As the new laboratory was being created within an existing building, VAV (variable air volume) system was chosen with new air handling units delivering filtered and conditioned air into the laboratory with centralised extract at roof level, all controlled by a BMS.

Gilberts’ Series PGL laminar flow panels – each 1200 x 600 – were selected to strategically deliver the local fresh air into the workspace. The Gilberts diffusers had to deliver adequate air for the lab staff without interfering with airflow around the 22no fume cupboards, of which three were interconnected creating a single unit 6m long. (Designed to capture and remove air-borne hazardous substances generated during laboratory experiments (e.g. gases, vapours, aerosols and particulates/dust), the fume cupboards have their own, dedicated exhaust system.)

Gilberts Series PGL is specifically designed for use in operating theatres, laboratories, clean rooms. The panels provide high capacity supply ventilation with a low free ventilation area (15%). Unlike a conventional ceiling diffuser the Laminar Flow Panel provides, via top entry inlets, an equalised turbulence free input of air into the treated zone creating a vertical air projection with little in the way of back drafts or inter-mixing. Thus, a clean un- contaminated air zone can be created to surround critical areas such as operating tables and work tops.

Explained A & B Engineering Associate Director Kevin Sykes,

“The building services for the new lab were complex to mechanically design and install. We had to balance the extract requirements for specialist gases, the bespoke fume cupboards and the human occupants whilst working within the parameters and limitations of an existing structure. We know from our long-standing relationship with Gilberts that we would receive the excellent partnering and service required for such a high-specification and high profile project.”

Dave Norcross, Projects Manager at Steven A Hunt, said,

“With such a prestigious, unusual and exacting specification, the teamwork we received from A&B Engineering and Gilberts was exemplar. As a result, the whole process went swimmingly well.”

Added Professor Richard Cosstick, University of Liverpool,

“We want to express our thanks at bringing this very complex and technically difficult job to an incredibly successful conclusion under very difficult circumstances. It is a fantastic lab space that has a real wow factor and will raise the bar as to what all staff will expect in terms of their lab space.”

The new Regius Chair laboratory is not the first specialist academic facility for which Gilberts has developed ventilation solutions; its portfolio includes the Rotblat Lecture Theatre @ University of Liverpool, University of Reading, National Composites Centre and Bournemouth University’s Design & Engineering Innovation Centre.

Founded some 60 years ago, Gilberts is Britain’s leading independent air movement specialist, and is unique in its ability to develop components. Be it ‘mainstream’ or bespoke – entirely in-house, from initial design through tooling, production, testing and supply, at its 85,000 ft2 manufacturing facility. Its state of the art test centre, designed and built in-house, is one of the most technically advanced in the country.