Cleanroom environments in non-laboratory contexts: a case study
January 31, 2014 00:00 By Vorasun Buranakarn, PhD
Buddhist monks' living quarters are usually constructed of conventional wood and masonry systems.
In the case of the Wat Baan Rai temple complex in Nakhon Ratchasima province, a highly advanced environmental control system has been introduced in order to secure the well-being of the ageing abbott, in an adaption that demonstrates the creativity in recontextualising technologies developed for one purpose to suit the entirely different needs of another.
Abbott Koon of Wat Baan Rai contracted an airborne disease and was transferred to hospital for treatment and recovery. His doctors requested that his temple living quarters be rehabilitated for controlled environmental cleanliness in order to ward off the recurrence of illness.
His quarters would need to be converted to “cleanroom” conditions. A cleanroom is typically used in manufacturing or scientific research contexts, and has a low level of environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles and chemical vapours.
In cleanrooms, the concentration of airborne particles is controlled to specified limits. Contaminants introduced by people and things must be continually removed from the air.
The design concept for the residence was a central bedroom surrounded by complementary bathroom and sitting room – all cleanroom environments. A cleanroom airflow system was installed with three-phase electrical power fuelled by two compressors running 24-hours a day. The inside air temperature was set at a constant 27C, with a relative humidity of 45-55 per cent.
Airflow from the units was tempered in order to lessen the abbott’s perception of coolness, which might bring on fever. The bedroom maintained positive air pressure, allowing for plenty of circulation and the reintroduction of fresh air from the outside.
Room surfaces were coated with non-toxic and non-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, a clean-room laboratory ceiling was installed, and all air-conditioning ducts were placed above the level of the ceiling.
The residence’s sitting room was outfitted with big laminated glass panels approximately 8mm thick. These panels established a barrier between the abbott and his guests to prevent contamination of the living quarters, but the transparent divide also allowed for the two parties to be proximous. A linked microphone and speaker system mediates vocal communications.
The sanitation system is one of the most critical aspects of the cleanroom environment. In order to secure the cleanroom’s effectiveness, all floor drains were permanently sealed. The toilets chosen were of a double tank system to prevent backflow of gases or liquids. All windows were sealed with no-stain and non-VOC sealants.
A compact entrance foyer sits between two sets of double doors at the unit’s entrance, acting as a transition zone for the cleanroom system to filter out dust, fungi, hot air and moisture.
The abbott’s cleanroom home meets class 10,000 and class 100,000 of laboratory standard FS209 Clean Room criteria.
The filter system has three parts: pre-filter, medium filter and Hepa-Filter, which can exclude 99.999 per cent of particles up to 0.3 microns.
To test the effectiveness of the completed design, a sample of air from within the abbott’s residence was collected and compared to air from the hospital’s intensive care uni. The results showed that the ICU sample contained a Viable Airborne Particulates count of 13CFU/m3, while the new residence only had 1CFU/m3.
With these outcomes, we can be assured that Abbott Koon is protected from further illnesses caused by airborne contamination.