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Vacuum

Systems

CEU 194
Continuing Education from the
American Society of Plumbing Engineers

December 2012

ASPE.ORG/ReadLearnEarn
READ, LEARN, EARN

Note: In determining your answers to the CE questions, use only the material presented in the corresponding continuing education
article. Using information from other materials may result in a wrong answer.

This chapter describes the design criteria, source equipment, The vacuum level is the difference in pressure between
and piping distribution networks for vacuum systems used the evacuated system and the atmosphere. Vacuum pressures
for general and laboratory applications and central vacuum- fall into four general categories:
cleaning systems. 1. Rough (or coarse) vacuum: 28 to 0.098 inches of
For the purposes of the discussion in this chapter, referenc- mercury (711.2 to 25 torr; 3.326 to 94.8 kilopascals
es to inch-pound (IP) units and international standard (SI), [kPa])
or metric, units shall follow the following conventions: 2. Medium (or fine) vacuum: 0.098 inches of mercury
1. Flow-rate measurements referring to standard condi- to 1 micrometer (m) of mercury (25 to 0.0010 torr;
tions shall be preceded by the prefix s for IP units 3.326 to 0.0075 kPa)
and n for SI units. 3. High vacuum: 1 to 1 x 10-6 micrometer of mercury
2. Pressure designations using standard atmospheric (0.0010 to 1 x 10-9 torr; 0.0075 to 7.5 x 10-9 kPa)
conditions as the base shall be followed by the suffix 4. Ultra-high vacuum: 1 x 10-6 to 1 x 10-9 micrometer of
g for gauge pressure in IP units. (No suffix is used mercury (1 x 10-9 to 1 x 10-12 torr; 7.5 x 10-9 to 7.5 x
with SI units.) 10-12 kPa)
3. Pressure designations using absolute zero pressure
conditions as the base shall be followed by the suffix PRESSURE MEASUREMENT
abs in both IP and SI units. While defining vacuum is straightforward, measuring a vac-
4. Pipe sizes using nominal pipe-diameter dimensions uum level (or force) is not. Several methods of measurement
in IP units shall be designated as nominal pipe size are used, each depending on a different reference point.
(NPS) and based on inches and fractions of an inch Units of Measurement
(e.g., 2 and 1 inches). In SI units, the size shall be
The two basic reference points for measuring vacuum are
expressed as nominal diameter (DN), based on mil-
standard atmospheric pressure and perfect vacuum. When
limeters (e.g., 50 and 40 DN).
the point of reference is standard atmospheric pressure,
Unless otherwise noted, measurements used in this
the measurement from that to a specified vacuum pressure
chapter are in inch-pound (IP) units, with metric (SI) units
is called gauge pressure. If the pressure level is measured
given in parenthesis.
from a perfect vacuum, the term used for the measurement
FUNDAMENTALS is absolute pressure. Local barometric pressure, which is
the prevailing pressure at any specific location, should not
For the purposes of this discussion, vacuum is any air pres-
be confused with standard atmosphere, which is mean baro-
sure lower than atmospheric pressure. Vacuum is created
metric pressure at sea level.
when air at atmospheric pressure enters a piping system
To compute work forces and changes in volume, it is nec-
that has a lower pressure. In most vacuum systems, the air
essary to convert to negative gauge pressure, expressed as
becomes the transporting medium for any gas or suspended
pounds per square inch gauge (psig) or kPa, or to absolute
solids, and the negative pressure provides the energy for
pressure, expressed as pounds per square inch absolute (psia)
transportation. These two essential factors operate in inverse
or kPa. The units used are inches of mercury (in. Hg) and
proportion: as the airflow increases, the vacuum pressure
the millibar (mbar). These units originate from the use of
decreases.
a barometer. The basic barometer is an evacuated vertical
Systems must be designed to produce the specific vacuum
tube with its top end closed and the open bottom placed in a
pressure and airflow levels that have been determined, often
container of mercury open to the atmosphere. The pressure,
by experience and experimentation, to be most effective in
or weight, exerted by the atmosphere on the open container
performing their respective tasks. The exception is where
forces the mercury up into the tube. At sea level, this pressure
vacuum pressure is intended to produce a force to lift objects
supports a column of mercury 29.92 inches high. In pressure
or simply to evacuate and maintain a vacuum in an enclosed
units, this becomes 14.69 psi (0 kPa).
space. For these uses, airflow is only a function of how long
it takes the system to achieve its ultimate vacuum pressure. Standard Reference Points and Conversions
Vacuum used for lift is outside the scope of this chapter. On the dials of most pressure gauges, atmospheric pressure
The vacuum piping network is sized using the following is assigned the value of zero. Vacuum measurements must
four criteria: total connected load/flow rate, diversity factor, have a value of less than zero. Negative gauge pressure is
equivalent length of piping, and allowable friction loss. the difference between the system vacuum pressure and

Reprinted from Plumbing Engineering Design Handbook, Volume 2. 2010, American Society of Plumbing Engineers.

2 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012


atmospheric pressure. Absolute pressure is the pressure (in Table 10-1 Conversions from
psia) above a perfect vacuum and is equal to atmospheric Torr to Various Vacuum Pressure Units
pressure less negative gauge pressure. 0.0010 torr = 1 micrometer of mercury (m Hg)
Other vacuum units are atmospheres, torr, and microm- 0.0075 torr = 1 pascal (Pa)
eters. To calculate atmospheres, divide absolute pressure 0.7501 torr = 1 millibar (mbar)
1.000 torr = 1 mm mercury (mm Hg)
in psia by 14.7. A torr is 1/760 of an atmosphere, and a mi-
1.868 torr = 1 in. water at 4C (in. H2O)
crometer is 0.001 torr. 25.40 torr = 1 in. mercury (in. Hg)
Figure 10-1 gives conversion from and to various IP 51.71 torr = 1 lb/in.2 (psi)
and SI pressure measurements. Table 10-1 gives numerical 735.6 torr = 1 tech. atmosphere (at)
multipliers for converting torr into various other vacuum 750.1 torr = 1 bar
760.0 torr = 1 standard atmosphere (atm)
pressure units.
Flow Rate Measurement
The two types of flow rate measurement are mass flow mea- GENERAL VACUUM CRITERIA
sured by weight, used in chemical process industries, and Adjusting the Vacuum Pump Rating for
volumetric flow measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm) Altitude
(liters per minute). Only volumetric flow is used for calcula- The rating of a pump at altitude is a lower percentage of its
tions in this chapter. rating at sea level. For each 1,000-foot (304.8-meter) increase
The flow rate measurement for vacuum is exactly the op- in altitude, atmospheric pressure drops by approximately 1
posite of that for compressed air. Using ambient, standard inch of mercury (3.39 kPa) (see Table 10-4).
free air at atmospheric pressure (referred to as standard To adjusting scfm for altitude, multiply the actual scfm
cubic feet per minute [scfm]) as a common reference, the by the factor found opposite the altitude where the project
ambient free air entering the vacuum pipe will expand to fill is located. Table 10-5 provides altitude multiplication factors
the vacuum in the piping system, creating a lower vacuum to accomplish this.
pressure. Standard air is dry (0 percent relative humidity), For example, for the city of Denver (at 5,000 feet [1,524
14.7 psia (101.4 kPa), and 60F (15.5C). meters]), the local atmospheric pressure is 24.90 inches of
The flow in a vacuum pipe is expanded cfm and repre- mercury (84.3 kPa). Dividing 30 inches of mercury (stan-
sents the flow under actual vacuum conditions, referred to dard atmospheric pressure at sea level) into 24.90 gives a
as actual cubic feet per minute (acfm), which is greater than percentage of 83.3 percent. If a pump is rated at 25 inches
scfm. Another phrase used to indicate acfm is inlet cubic feet of mercury (84.7 kPa) at sea level, 83.3 percent of 25 is 20.8
per minute (icfm). inches of mercury (70.4 kPa) at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters).
The above designations are not universally used; there- This is the required vacuum pressure that would equal 25
fore, it is important to ensure that the correct nomenclature inches of mercury (84.7 kPa) at sea level.
for vacuum pump capacity specifications and flow rate is At altitudes above sea level, the scfm delivered is reduced
identified and understood prior to selection and sizing. because of the difference in local pressure compared to stan-
Converting scfm to acfm dard pressure. The scfm must be increased to compensate
The following formula is used to convert scfm to acfm. for this difference.
Equation 10-1 Time for a Pump to Reach the Rated Vacuum
acfm=scfm 29.92
P T+460
520 The time a given pump will take to reach its rated vacuum
pressure depends on the volume of the system in cubic feet
where (cubic meters) and the capacity of the pump in scfm (sL/s)
P = Actual pressure for the scfm being converted, inches at the vacuum-rated pressure. However, simply dividing the
of mercury (kPa) system volume by the capacity of the pump does not produce
T = Actual temperature for the scfm being converted, F an accurate answer because the vacuum pump does not pump
(C)
the same quantity of air at different pressures.
For practical purposes, a numerical method for solving A logarithmic relationship can be approximated by the
Equation 10-1 can be used if the temperature is 60F (15.5C). following formula:
At that temperature, the second part of the equation becomes Equation 10-2
unity. Table 10-2 gives the numerical values for 29.92/P. To V N
T= Q
find acfm, multiply the scfm by the value found in the table
opposite the vacuum pressure (P). where
A direct ratio for converting scfm to acfm (sL/s to aL/s) for T = Time, minutes
V = Volume of system, cubic feet (cubic meters)
various pressures is given in Table 10-3. Multiply the scfm
Q = Flow capacity of pump, scfm (sL/s)
(sL/s) by the factor corresponding to the pressure in inches N = Natural log constant:
of mercury abs (kPa abs) to find acfm (aL/s).
For vacuum up to 10 inches of mercury (33.9 kPa),
N=1
For vacuum up to 22.5 inches of mercury (76.2 kPa),
N=2

DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 3


READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems

Figure 10-1 Conversion of Vacuum Pressure Measurements

For vacuum up to 26 inches of mercury (88.0 kPa), Simplified Method of Calculating Velocity
N=3 The following formula can be used to find the velocity of a
For vacuum up to 28 inches of mercury (94.8 kPa), gas stream under a vacuum.
N=4 Equation 10-4
To obtain the most accurate answer, you should obtain V=CQ
pump curves from the manufacturer and substitute the N where
value for each scfm (sL/s) capacity at increments of 5 inches V = Velocity, feet per second (fps) (meters per second)
of mercury (16.9 kPa) and then add the N values to find C = Constant for velocity based on pipe size (refer to Table
the total time. Selection of the value for N depends on the 10-6)
highest level of system vacuum pressure and is constant for Q = Flow rate based on an absolute vacuum pressure,
several calculations. acfm (aL/s)

Adjusting Pressure Drop for Different Vacuum Example 10-1


Pressures Calculate the velocity of 100 scfm (47.2 sL/s) through a
2-inch (50-DN) pipe with a pressure of 20 inches of mercury
When the available sizing chart uses a vacuum level dif-
(67.7 kPa).
ferent than that of the system being designed, the pressure
Find the equivalent absolute pressure of 20 inches of
loss for the scfm (sL/s) and pipe size for the systems vacuum
mercury (67.7 kPa). Using Table 10-7, read 9.92 inches of
pressure can be found by dividing the pressure drop in the
mercury abs (33.57 kPa abs).
chart by the ratio found from the following formula:
Convert 100 scfm (47.2 sL/s) to acfm (aL/s) at a pressure
Equation 10-3
new vacuum pressure of 9.92 inches of mercury abs (33.57 kPa abs) by using Table
30 pressure used to create chart 10-3. Opposite 10 inches of mercury (33.9 kPa) is 1.5. Thus,
100 scfm x 1.5 = 150 acfm (70.8 aL/s).
4 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012
Table 10-2 Expanded Air Ratio, 29.92/P, Table 10-4 Barometric Pressure Corresponding to Altitude
as a Function of Pressure, P (in. Hg) Altitudea Barometric Pressure
29.92 29.92 m ft in. Hg kPa
P P P P 3,040 10,000 31.00 104.5
29.92 1.00 10.92 2.7399 152 500 30.50 102.8
28.92 1.0346 9.92 3.0161 0 0 29.92 100.8
27.92 1.0716 8.92 3.3542 152 500 29.39 99.0
26.92 1.1114 7.92 3.7777 304 1,000 28.87 97.3
25.92 1.1543 6.92 4.3236 456 1,500 28.33 95.5
24.92 1.2006 5.92 5.0540 608 2,000 27.82 93.7
23.92 1.2508 4.92 6.0813 760 2,500 27.31 92.0
22.92 1.3054 3.92 7.6326 912 3,000 26.81 90.3
21.92 1.3650 2.92 10.2465 1,064 3,500 26.32 88.7
20.92 1.4302 1.92 15.5833 1,216 4,000 25.85 87.1
19.92 1.5020 0.92 32.5217 1,368 4,500 25.36 85.5
18.92 1.5814 0.80 37.40 1,520 5,000 24.90 83.9
17.92 1.6696 0.70 42.0742 1,672 5,500 24.43 81.9
16.92 1.7683 0.60 49.8667 1,824 6,000 23.98 80.8
15.92 1.8794 0.50 59.84 1,976 6,500 23.53 79.3
14.92 2.0054 0.40 74.80 2,128 7,000 23.10 77.8
13.92 2.1494 0.30 99.7334 2,280 7,500 22.65 76.3
12.92 2.3158 0.20 149.60 2,432 8,000 22.22 74.9
11.92 2.5101 0.10 299.20 2,584 8,500 21.80 73.4
Note: 1 in. Hg=3.39 kPa 2,736 9,000 21.39 72.1
2,888 9,500 20.98 70.7
3,040 10,000 20.58 69.3
Table 10-3 Direct Ratio for Converting a
Sea level=0
scfm to acfm (sL/s to aL/s)
kPa kPa
In. Hg Abs. Factor In. Hg Abs. Factor Table 10-5 Factor for Flow Rate Reduction Due to Altitude
1 97.9 1.05 16 47.09 2.15 Altitude Factor for
2 94.5 1.1 17 43.71 2.3 m ft Adjusted scfm
3 91.15 1.1 18 40.33 2.5 0 0 1.0
4 87.77 1.15 19 36.95 2.73 152 500 1.02
5 84.39 1.2 20 33.57 3 304 1,000 1.04
6 81.01 1.25 21 30.20 3.33 456 1,500 1.06
7 77.63 1.3 22 26.82 3.75 608 2,000 1.08
8 74.19 1.35 23 23.37 4.28 760 2,500 1.10
9 70.81 1.4 24 19.99 5 912 3,000 1.12
10 67.43 1.5 25 16.61 6 1,064 3,500 1.14
11 64.05 1.55 26 13.23 7.5 1,216 4,000 1.16
12 60.67 1.62 27 9.85 10 1,520 5,000 1.20
13 57.29 1.75 28 6.48 15 1,824 6,000 1.25
14 53.91 1.85 29 3.10 30 2,128 7,000 1.30
15 50.54 2.0 29.92 0 60 2,432 8,000 1.35
2,736 9,000 1.40
3,040 10,000 1.45
3,344 11,000 1.51
1scfm=0.472 sL/s

Refer to Table 10-6 to obtain C. This table has been devel- Since the above formula is theoretical, it is common prac-
oped from the flow characteristics of air in Schedule 40 pipe. tice to use a safety factor in the range of three to five times
Opposite 2-inch (50-millimeter) pipe is 42.92. the calculated force to compensate for the quality of the air
Solving for velocity, V = 150 acfm x 42.92 = 6,438 fps seal and other factors such as configuration of the load and
(1,962 meters per second). outside forces such as acceleration.
Vacuum Work Forces
The total force of a vacuum system acting on a load is based VACUUM PUMPS AND SOURCE
on the vacuum pressure and the surface area on which the EQUIPMENT
vacuum is acting. This is expressed in the following for- Vacuum is produced by a single or multiple vacuum pump
mula: drawing air from remote vacuum inlets or equipment. Ex-
Equation 10-5 cept for some rare industrial applications, vacuum pumps
F=PA withdraw air from a receiver to produce the vacuum in the
where system.
F = Force, pounds (Newtons) Air exhausted from the system must be discharged to
P = Vacuum pressure, psig (Pa or Newtons per square the atmosphere by means of an exhaust piping system. The
meter) pipe size shall be large enough to not restrict operation of
A = Area, square inches (square meters) the vacuum pump. (See the separate discussions under the

DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 5


READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems
Table 10-6 Constant, C, for Finding Mean Air Velocity
Laboratory and Vacuum Systems and Vacuum Cleaning 40 Sched. 40 Sched.
Systems sections, which follow.) Pipe Size, Pipe Size,
DN in. C DN in. C
Alarms are required for maintenance purposes or to an- 12 3
8 740.9 65 2 30.12
nunciate trouble, generally inadequate vacuum pressure, in 15 481.9 75 3 19.53
the system. 20 270.0 90 3 14.7
25 1 168.0 100 4 11.32
Vacuum Pumps 32 1 96.15 125 5 7.27
The majority of vacuum pumps are divided into two general 40 1 71.43 150 6 5.0
groups: gas transfer and capture. Capture-type pumps are 50 2 42.92 200 8 2.95
1 in.=25.4 mm
outside the scope of this chapter.
Gas-transfer pumps are essentially air compressors that Table 10-7 IP and SI Pressure Conversion
use the vacuum system as their inlet and discharge com- kPa abs. in. Hg in. Hg abs. psia
pressed air to the atmosphere. The majority of pumps used 101.4 0 29.92 14.70
97.9 1 28.92 14.2086
for most applications are gas-transfer pumps. They operate
94.5 2 27.92 13.7173
by removing gas from the lower pressure of the system and 91.5 3 26.92 13.2260
conveying it to the higher pressure of the free-air environ- 87.77 4 25.92 12.7347
ment through one or more stages of compression provided by 84.39 5 24.92 12.2434
a vacuum pump. These pumps also are known as mechani- 81.01 6 23.92 11.7521
77.63 7 22.92 11.2608
cal rotary-type pumps and are the type used most often for 74.22 8 21.92 10.766
industrial and laboratory purposes. 70.84 9 20.92 10.275
These pumps can be divided into two categories: liquid 67.45 10 19.92 9.7838
sealed and dry. Liquid-sealed pumps use liquid, typically 64.07 11 18.92 9.2926
60.68 12 17.92 8.8015
water or oil, to create a seal between the rotor and casing to 57.29 13 16.92 8.3129
produce a vacuum. Examples of liquid sealed gas-transfer 53.91 14 15.92 7.8216
pumps include rotary vane, once-through oil (OTO); rotary 50.52 15 14.92 7.328
vane, recirculating oil sealed; oil-sealed reciprocating (rotary) 47.13 16 13.92 6.8369
piston; and liquid ring. 43.75 17 12.92 6.3457
40.37 18 11.92 5.8546
Dry vacuum pumps use tight tolerances to seal the pump 36.98 19 10.92 5.3634
chamber to produce vacuum. This can be done using closely 33.59 20 9.92 4.8722
machined tolerances or replaceable wearing sealing elements. 30.21 21 8.92 4.3811
These types of pumps generally run hotter than liquid-sealed 26.82 22 7.92 3.8911
23.43 23 6.92 3.3988
pumps. Examples of dry pumps are rotary sliding vane, oil- 20.05 24 5.92 2.9076
less; reciprocating (rotary) dry piston; rotary lobe (roots), 16.66 25 4.92 2.4165
ordinary lobe or claw; rotary screw; diaphragm; and centrifugal 13.27 26 3.92 1.9253
(turbo). 9.89 27 2.92 1.4342
6.502 28 1.92 0.9430
The diaphragm and centrifugal pumps are used more for 3.12 29 0.92 0.4520
small benchtop applications and not for central systems. 2.71 29.22 0.80 0.3930
It is best to buy a vacuum pump as a complete package 2.37 29.52 0.70 0.3439
assembled by the pump manufacturer, with all of the acces- 2.03 29.72 0.60 0.2947
sories included. This way, the pump or pumps, receiver, inlet 0 29.92 0 0
filter, oil-mist filter, oil separator, heat exchangers, cooling pump, additional pumps in a multiplex assembly are started.
fans, water reservoir tanks, sensors, gauges, piping, valves, When the desired high level of vacuum is reached, the pumps
starters, disconnects, and controls all can be factory tested could be shut off.
prior to delivery on site. Once on site, all that remains is field Larger units may be constantly operatedloading,
connection to the utilities and system piping. The individual unloading, or bypassing on demand. Often, a timer on the
components can be purchased separately, field located, and system allows the pumps to run longer than required by
interconnected, but this requires additional time. system pressure to prevent rapid cycling. If the vacuum level
Equipment can be tank mounted or skid mounted. Skid- cannot be achieved or maintained, an audible or visual alarm
mounted equipment can be made in stackable-modular indicates the shortage.
sections to conserve space or allow expansion in the future. Factors that affect receiver sizing are pump capacity, op-
Receivers erating range, and piping system volume. On small piping
The piping distribution system is connected to the pumps systems, the receiver size is more important to avoid short-
through a tank called a receiver. The receiver balances the cycling the pumps. On larger piping systems, the size of the
vacuum pressure extremes produced by operation of the receiver has little effect on actual system operation, and it is
pump and maintains the desired range of vacuum as the selected by the manufacturer based on experience.
demand rises or falls depending on the number of inlets For laboratory systems with a liquid-ring pump and
that open or close. When the system vacuum pressure drops known to handle liquids, the receiver and hence the pumps
to a predetermined level beyond the capacity of a single should be placed at the lowest level of the building or pip-

6 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012


ing system with the piping pitched back to the receiver. The element. Similar to the Bourdon gauge, its operation relies
receiver should have a sight glass and drain valve to drain on the deformation of an elastic metal under pressure.
all liquid from the receiver.
Ancillary Equipment
In other laboratory and process systems, the receiver and
Control panels should be mounted by the manufacturer on
pumps can be installed anywhere in the building. If they are
the skid to avoid field wiring. They also can be remotely
installed above the laboratory spaces such as in a mechani-
mounted on a wall near the equipment, preferably within
cal penthouse, make sure provisions for draining the piping
line of sight. All equipment on the skid, including the control
system at the low points are considered.
panel, shall be UL listed.
Seal Liquids A coalescing, or oil-mist, filter should be used on the
For liquid-ring pumps, a circulating liquid in the pump casing exhaust of any pump that uses oil to prevent the discharge
is an integral part of the pump operation. This liquid, gener- of oil into the atmosphere. It also can be used to recover
ally water or oil, is commonly known as seal liquid and is not solvents from the discharge airstream.
intended to refer to shaft or any other kinds of sealing. A knockout pot is a device that prevents entrained liquid
Water, commonly used for sealing purposes, must be or slugs of liquid from entering the inlet of mechanical pumps
continuously replaced. With no conservation, approximately used in industrial applications. It also can be combined with
0.5 gallons per minute (gpm) per horsepower (1.9 liters per an inlet filter in one housing.
horsepower) is used. Manufacturers have developed propri- Inlet filters are used to remove solids or liquids that may
etary water-conservation methods that typically reduce the be present in the inlet airstream prior to the air entering
usage to approximately 0.1 gpm per horsepower (0.4 liter the pump. Various filter elements are available to remove
per horsepower). Specific information about water usage particulates approximately 0.3 micrometer in size.
and the additional space required must be obtained from Cooling of the vacuum pumps must be considered in the
the manufacturer. layout of the system. Most units can be air cooled with radia-
Oil used for sealing purposes is recirculated and may tors and cooling fans mounted on the skid. The heat rejection
have to be cooled. The pump does not require any water to into the space must be considered by the HVAC engineer to
operate. The oil eventually becomes contaminated and must prevent the space from becoming too hot. A temperature
be replaced on a regular basis. Typically, a running time of increase of 5 to 20F is not uncommon, and a vacuum pumps
1,500 to 2,000 hours is the useful life of seal oil. It may be performance decreases as the room temperature escalates,
desirable to install a running time meter on these pumps to which can result in a shorter life-cycle of the equipment.
aid in maintenance. Some pumps using oil, such as the once- Some manufacturers have room temperature requirements
through oil rotary vane, often require more installation space for proper operation of their equipment.
than other types of pumps. Specific information about the Other units can be furnished with heat exchangers
additional space required shall be obtained from the manu- and cooled with domestic water or chilled water. Means of
facturer. Other recirculating oil-sealed units will fit within obtaining year-round chilled water sources must be consid-
the space required for other types of vacuum systems. ered. Cooling with domestic water on a once-through basis,
For once-through oil-sealed pumps, an oil supply and after which the water is sent to the drainage system, is
collection system can be engineered to supply oil and collect discouraged. Storm water reuse and graywater systems can
the waste oil from the pumps. The disposal of the waste oil be utilized as a cooling media where climates and programs
should be considered in evaluating the cost of the pump. allow for a reliable means of cooling. However, if the supply
Additional types of liquids can be used for seal liquid in from these alternative water sources is less than required,
a vacuum pump. A liquid from the process can be used, and a backup cooling source must be considered. Systems also
the pump materials selected to suit the application. Consult have been developed that use an aluminum reservoir tank
a manufacturer or vendor to select the materials and equip- to cool the water through convection and radiation using
ment to design such a system. relatively little makeup water.
In cases where the system as a whole has a high vacuum
Vacuum Pressure Gauges
pressure, it may be necessary to lower the vacuum pressure
The two commonly used gauges are the Bourdon and the
to a branch. For liquid-ring pumps, this is generally done with
diaphragm.
an air-bleed valve on the branch where the lower vacuum
The Bourdon gauge is a mechanical gauge used to mea-
pressure is desired. When the valve is opened, air is allowed
sure the difference in relative pressure between the system
to enter the system. For precise control, a needle valve is
and local barometric pressure. The most widely used type
used. Bleeding air into the system must be accounted for in
of gauge, it is simple, inexpensive, and rugged. The heart of
the selection of the pump capacity.
the gauge is the Bourdon tube that is closed at one end and
For other mechanical pumps, lowering the vacuum pres-
open to the vacuum at the other. As the vacuum pressure
sure can be accomplished by using a throttling valve at the
varies, the tube changes shape. A pointer attached to the
inlet. This creates a higher vacuum drop at the throttling
tube moves, indicating the pressure on a dial.
valve, allowing a lower vacuum level on the user side of
The diaphragm gauge measures the pressure difference by
the valve while maintaining the high vacuum level on the
sensing the deflection of a thin metal diaphragm or capsular

DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 7


READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems

system side. This way no additional load (bleed air) must be Codes and Standards
accounted for in the system. No codes and standards are applicable to the design of
Some laboratory and most process pump skids using oil- laboratory and manufacturing vacuum systems. The most
sealed pumps may use an air or nitrogen gas purge. A purge important requirements are those of the end user and good
usually occurs at the end of a pump run cycle to evacuate engineering practice. For laboratory work within healthcare
any chemical vapors that may condense as the pump cools. It facilities, conformance to NFPA 99: Standard for Healthcare
also can occur at startup to warm up the pump and remove Facilities is required. The standard addresses different levels
any condensed liquids. The purge cycle may last from five of systems based on the use of the facility. Some laboratories
to 15 minutes. may fall under one of the categories listed, so the code should
be investigated for applicability to your system.
LABORATORY VACUUM SYSTEMS Laboratories conducting biological work where airborne
Laboratory vacuum systems serve general chemical, biologi- pathogens could be released are required to follow the ap-
cal, and physics purposes. Principal among such purposes propriate biological level criteria established by Biosafety
are drying, filtering, fluid transfer, and evacuating air from in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL)
apparatus. The usual working pressure of standard vacuum developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human
systems is in the range of 12 to 21 inches of mercury (40.6 Services Public Health Services, Centers for Disease Con-
to 67.7 kPa). trol and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes
Some cases, usually in chemistry laboratories, call for high of Health (NIH). For most biological installations, check
vacuum in the range of 24 to 29 inches of mercury (81.3 to valves should be installed in each branch line to every room
98.2 kPa), which is usually produced with a separate point-of- or area to prevent cross-discharge. It is common to have
use vacuum pump adjacent to the area of application. Central separate pumps for areas with different biological levels. In
systems can be designed to accommodate high vacuum uses addition, the vacuum pump exhaust shall be provided with
down to 29.64 inches of mercury (7 torr). With the use of a duplex 0.02-micrometer (HEPA) filters on the exhaust to
booster (blower), a vacuum level of 29.88 inches of mercury prevent all pathogenic particulates from being expelled to
(1 torr) is possible, but this is not recommended for large the outside air.
systems. These ultra-high vacuum systems should be used On higher biosafety laboratory levels (BSL-3 or higher), it
only for closed-ended systems (i.e., closed vessels at the use is more common to use point-of-use vacuum pumps located
points). If used for general drying and filtering, they will not in the laboratory. This eliminates the potential of contami-
maintain vacuum levels. The system should be designed us- nated air being transferred out of the containment area.
ing an extensive program or spreadsheet to size the piping. When using a central vacuum system on higher-level BSL
Pipe sizes tend to be large due to the expansion of the air and laboratories, it is recommended to locate the filters upstream
vapor from atmospheric pressure to deep vacuum. of the pump in the containment area. This requires the filters
Other types of systems serve light industrial and manu- to be changed by the users and eliminates the potential of
facturing purposes, such as those of the pharmaceutical and contaminating clean areas during filter change. By locating
chemical industries. the filters in the containment area, the pump can be located
and serviced outside the biological containment area. Con-
siderations for decontamination of the piping and equipment

Figure 10-2 Schematic Detail of a Typical Laboratory Vacuum Pump Assembly


8 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012
Figure 10-3 Typical Process Vacuum Pump Duplex Arrangement
should be evaluated for maintenance purposes. Additional schematic detail of a typical process vacuum pump duplex
isolation, sampling, and vent valves may be required to assembly is illustrated in Figure 10-3.
successfully allow for decontamination of the piping and Dry pump technology has gained prominence over the
equipment. past years due to water conservation concerns and waste oil
disposal. These pumps have moved from strictly chemical
Vacuum Source
duty into the laboratory and medical industry. Since they
The vacuum source usually consists of two or more pumps
do run hot, they need to be evaluated for use on a labora-
that are designed to operate as system demand requires, a
tory or medical system so auto-ignition of the vapors does
receiver used to provide a vacuum reservoir and to separate
not happen.
liquids from the vacuum airstream, the interconnecting pip-
ing around the pumps and receiver, and alarms. A duplex Distribution Network
system, with each pump capable of assuming the entire load, Piping for the distribution system shall be a corrosion-
typically is selected if the system is critical to the operation resistant material such as copper tube type K or L, stainless
of the laboratory. In some smaller installations where the steel, galvanized steel pipe (usually Schedule 40 ASTM A53),
vacuum system is not critical, it may be acceptable to have or even plastic such as PVC, polypropylene, or high-density
a single vacuum pump or two pumps designed to handle a polyethylene. Copper tube shall be hard tempered except
percentage of the total load. This allows some level of capacity when installed underground, where soft tempered should be
when one pump fails or needs to be maintained. used. Although cost has a major influence on the selection
The pumps selection should be based on the anticipated of the piping material, the most commonly used is copper
design conditions consisting of vacuum level, process gases tube type L, ASTM B88, up to 4 inches (100 millimeters) in
or liquids, first cost, maintenance cost, utility cost, and reli- size, with soldered joints. Pipe 5 inches (125 millimeters)
ability. No single pump type will suit all applications; they and larger is usually Schedule 40 galvanized steel pipe with
each have strong and weak points. malleable iron fittings and threaded joints.
The two most often used pump types in laboratories Fittings shall have a long-turn drainage pattern so as to
are liquid ring and sliding vane. A common configuration not impede the flow of fluids in the pipe. For high vacuum
for more than one pump is a rack mounting one above systems, steel pipe with welded joints should be considered
the other and both pumps installed over the receiver for a to eliminate possible leaks.
compact footprint. A schematic detail of a typical labora-
tory vacuum pump assembly is illustrated in Figure 10-2. A
DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 9
READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems
General System Layout source assembly) and a maximum velocity between 4,000 and
It is recommended to locate the vacuum equipment at the 5,000 feet per minute (1,219 to 1,524 meters per minute).
lowest level of the system, so gravity will carry solids and If noise may be a problem, use 4,000 feet per minute (1,219
liquids. The vacuum equipment may be at the top of the sys- meters per minute). For smaller systems, use an allowable
tem such as in a penthouse, but heavy liquids and materials pressure loss of 1 inch of mercury (3.4 kPa) for each 100 feet
will collect at the low points. Proper clearances should be (31 meters) of pipe. If dealing with high vacuum applications,
provided for maintenance and accessibility, including pump the allowable high-to-low pressure loss is much less, in the
removal. Piping should be run with a slight slope back toward range of 0.12 to 0.2 inch of mercury (3 to 5 torr). A generally
the receiver. Risers should have isolation valves. Provisions accepted criterion is to use 10 percent of the highest pressure
for cleanouts should be considered to allow cleaning of the at the source.
vacuum piping. This is important since vacuum piping acts Equivalent Run of Pipe
as a receiver and over the years will collect material along The equivalent length of piping is found by using the actual
its walls. measured run of pipe and adding an associated length of
Vacuum pump exhaust should vent outside, clear of any air pipe for various fittings and valves. Each fitting and valve
intakes and windows. The routing should be as direct as pos- has associated friction losses. To calculate this loss, you can
sible and insulated for personnel protection near the pump use published tables that equate the losses seen in various
since it may get hot depending on the pump selected. Provide fittings to the losses you would see in an equivalent length of
a low-point drain valve since rainwater and condensed liquids pipe. Due to variations of pipe routings from the design to the
in the exhaust stream may collect in the pipe. contractor-completed installation, another common method
Pipe Sizing Criteria used is to assume a percentage of the total length of piping
to allow for fittings. The percentage of pipe length used to
Number of Inlets account for fittings can vary depending on the project. Some
Using the projects plans, locate and count the number of factors that need to be considered in assuming a percentage
inlets and determine the required flow rate for each. No of total run for fittings are how much of the routing is long
codes or other mandated requirements specify the locations straight runs versus bends, the number of branch takeoffs,
of vacuum inlets. The number of inlets is provided by the and the number of valves. All of these components can influ-
architect or lab programmer and determined by the end user, ence the equivalent length of pipe to account for fittings.
based on the requirements of all rooms, areas, and equipment Common percentages to allow for fittings are between
used in the facility. Inlets for laboratory stations, fume hoods, 15 and 50 percent of the measured run. The length of pipe
etc. shall be appropriate for the intended use, based on the run and the length of pipe to account for fittings is the total
requirements of the end user. equivalent length.
Location of the Supply Source Allowable Piping Pressure Loss
Select the location of the supply source in conjunction with This is calculated using the allowable pressure loss for the
the architect, electrical department, and any others who are system divided by the equivalent run of pipe in hundreds of
involved. feet. For example, if the measured run is 300 feet and the
System Pressure building has a large percentage of fittings and valves versus
Determine the system operating pressure by discussing with long straight runs of pipe, add 50 percent of the total run
the end user the type of research being performed and the for fittings (150 feet), which equals 450 feet of equivalent
function of the vacuum. run. The allowable system pressure loss is calculated at 5
inches of mercury, so divide the allowable system pressure
Flow Rate loss by the equivalent run times 100 to obtain the number
The basic flow rate from each laboratory inlet shall be 1 in 100 feet of pipe. The result is a piping pressure loss of 1.1
scfm (0.47 sL/m). This flow rate is used in conjunction with inches of mercury per 100 feet. However, this calculation
the direct reading figure for the diversity factor. For manu- must be made in terms compatible with the chart or table
facturing facilities, the flow rate shall be obtained from the for flow rate and pressure loss per length of pipe that you
manufacturer of the equipment being supported. have selected for sizing.
Allowable System Pressure Loss Diversity Factor
A generally accepted criterion used to size a piping system The diversity factor established for general laboratories is
is to allow a high-to-low pressure range of 3 to 5 inches of based on experience. It has been found to be slightly more
mercury (10.2 to 16.9 kPa) for the entire system (after the than that used for compressed air because the vacuum is
often left on for longer periods of time. Refer to Figure
Table 10-8 Diversity Factor for Laboratory 10-4 for a direct reading chart to determine the adjusted
Vacuum Air Systems general laboratory vacuum flow rate based on the number
Number % Use of Inlets Factor of connected inlets regardless of type or location. Find the
12 100
35 80 connected number of inlets along the bottom, and where the
610 66 number crosses the reference line determine the scfm (sL/s)
1120 35 on the side of the chart.
21100 25

10 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012


Figure 10-4 Direct Reading Chart Showing Diversity for Laboratory Vacuum

Table 10-9 Pressure Loss Data for Sizing Vacuum Pipe,


Low Pressure Vacuum System
Standard Air Pressure Drop per 100 ft (30 m) of Pipe, in. Hg (kPa)
Flow, Nominal Pipe Size, in. (DN)
cfm (L/min) (20) 1 (25) 1 (32) 1 (40) 2 (50) 2 (65) 3 (80) 4 (100)
1 (28.3) 0.15 (0.5)
2 (56.6) 0.39 (1.3) 0.10 (0.3)
3 (85.0) 0.77 (2.6) 0.19 (0.6)
4 (113.3) 1.24 (4.2) 0.31 (1.1) 0.10 (0.3)
5 (141.6) 1.78 (6.0) 0.44 (1.5) 0.14 (0.5)
6 (169.9) 2.40 (8.1) 0.60 (2.0) 0.19 (0.6)
7 (198.2) 0.77 (2.6) 0.24 (0.8) 0.12 (0.4)
8 (226.6) 0.95 (3.2) 0.31 (1.1) 0.15 (0.5)
9 (254.9) 1.17 (4.0) 0.38 (1.3) 0.18 (0.6)
10 (283.2) 1.38 (4.7) 0.45 (1.5) 0.22 (0.7)
15 (424.8) 2.80 (9.5) 0.88 (3.0) 0.44 (1.5) 0.12 (0.4)
20 (566.4) 1.46 (4.9) 0.72 (2.4) 0.19 (0.6)
25 (708.0) 2.20 (7.4) 1.09 (3.7) 0.29 (1.0)
30 (849.6) 1.52 (5.1) 0.41 (1.4) 0.14 (0.5)
35 (991.2) 2.00 (6.8) 0.54 (1.8) 0.18 (0.6)
40 (1132.8) 2.50 (8.4) 0.67 (2.3) 0.22 (0.7) 0.10 (0.3)
45 (1274.4) 0.81 (2.7) 0.27 (0.9) 0.12 (0.4)
50 (1416.0) 0.99 (3.3) 0.33 (1.1) 0.14 (0.5)
60 (1699.2) 1.34 (4.5) 0.45 (1.5) 0.19 (0.6)
70 (1982.4) 1.79 (6.1) 0.60 (2.0) 0.26 (0.9) 0.07 (0.2)
80 (2265.6) 2.30 (7.8) 0.77 (2.6) 0.32 (1.1) 0.09 (0.3)
90 (2548.8) 0.96 (3.2) 0.41 (1.4) 0.11 (0.4)
100 (2832.0) 1.17 (4.0) 0.50 (1.7) 0.14 (0.5)
125 (3540.0) 1.71 (5.8) 0.74 (2.5) 0.20 (0.7)
150 (4248.0) 2.30 (7.8) 0.99 (3.3) 0.27 (0.9)
175 (4956.0) 1.28 (4.3) 0.35 (1.2)
200 (5664.0) 1.61 (5.4) 0.44 (1.5)
Source: Courtesy of Ohmeda.
Note: Based on copper pipe type L, ASTM B88.

DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 11


READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems
previously calculated allowable pressure loss for the system.
Table 10-9(A) Pressure Loss Data for Sizing Read the size at the top of the column where the selected
vacuum Pipe, High Vacuum Pressure System value is found.
Laboratory Vacuum Branch Piping 26" Hg For industrial facilities, this information shall be ob-
Total Outlets Pipe Velocity Pressure tained from the end user.
Outlets Used SCFM Size (FPM) Drop (in Hg)
Source Vacuum Pump Sizing
1 1.0 0.5 1
2 2,556 0.04
The source pump for laboratories is selected using the flow
2 2.0 1.0 3
4 2,454 0.02
rate of the gas at all inlets, the diversity factor for the whole
3 3.0 1.5 3
4 3,705 0.06
facility, and a range of vacuum pressure. The source pumps
4 4.0 2.0 3
4 4,998 0.12
for industrial facilities are sized using the total connected
5 5.0 2.5 1 3,617 0.05 load reduced by a diversity factor determined from the duty
6 5.7 2.9 1 4,209 0.07 cycle of the equipment and a diversity factor based on end-
7 6.4 3.2 1 4,657 0.08 user requirements.
8 7.1 3.6 114 3,412 0.04 The pressure range usually extends from 5 inches of
9 7.9 3.9 114 3,701 0.05 mercury (16.9 kPa) higher than the highest required vacuum
10 8.6 4.3 114 4,088 0.05 pressure (the pump stopping point) to a low figure equal
11 9.3 4.6 114 4,380 0.06 to the lowest acceptable system pressure (the pump start-
12 10.0 5.0 114 4,771 0.07 ing point). For duplex and triplex pump arrangements, the
13 10.5 5.2 114 4,967 0.08 intermediate vacuum settings for multiple pumps shall be
14 11.0 5.5 1 2
1
3,683 0.04 adjusted accordingly.
15 11.4 5.7 112 3,819 0.04 Vacuum Pump Exhaust Pipe Sizing
16 11.9 6.0 112 4,023 0.05 For sizing the exhaust piping from the vacuum pump source
17 12.4 6.2 112 4,160 0.05 assembly, refer to Table 10-10, using the equivalent length
18 12.9 6.4 112 4,296 0.05 of exhaust piping as the length of piping. (See the Piping
19 13.3 6.7 112 4,502 0.06 Network Sizing section below for a definition of equivalent
20 13.8 6.9 1 2
1
4,639 0.06 length.)
21 14.3 7.1 112 4,777 0.06
System Leakage
22 14.8 7.4 112 4,984 0.07
There is a difference between desirable and acceptable
23 15.2 7.6 2 2,915 0.02
leakage in a vacuum system. Ideally, no leakage should oc-
24 15.7 7.9 2 3,031 0.02
cur. It is common practice to test laboratory vacuum piping
Velocity of 4,000 fpm,Type L copper, pressure drop in in. Hg/100 ft
systems, section by section, at the rated maximum working
For the design of classrooms, the diversity factor for pressure for 24 hours with no loss of pressure permitted. Yet
one and two classrooms on one branch is 100 percent. For it is almost impossible to install a large system that does not
more than two classrooms, use a diversity factor double have small leaks. If such is the case, what is an acceptable
that found in Table 10-8, but never less than the largest amount of leakage?
scfm (sL/s) calculated for the first two rooms. Since the There is no generally accepted value for allowable leak-
above flow rates and diversity factors are arbitrary, they age in a vacuum system, which should be related to the
must be used with judgment and modified if necessary for volume of the piping network to be meaningful. However,
special conditions and client requirements. Always consult the Heat Exchange Institute has developed a standard
the user for definitive information regarding the maximum based on system volume. This formula, transposed to solve
probable simultaneous usage of connected inlets. Table 10-8 for leakage, is:
has been prepared for a numerical calculation
of the diversity factor, if desired. Table 10-10 Vacuum Pump Exhaust Pipe Sizing
Total Vacuum Equivalent Pipe Length, ft (m)
Piping Network Sizing Plant Capacity, 50 100 150 200 300 400 500
The following method should be used to size All Pumps (15.2) (30.4) (45.6) (60.8) (91.2) (121.6) (152)
the pipe at each design point. Use the previ- scfm nL/s Pipe Size, in. (DN)
ously calculated allowable piping pressure 10 4.72 2 (50) 2 (50) 2 (50) 2 (50) 2 (50) 2 (50) 2 (50)
50 23.6 2 (50) 2 (65) 3 (75) 3 (75) 3 (75) 3 (75) 3 (75)
loss and adjusted scfm (sL/s) at each design 100 47.2 3 (75) 3 (75) 3 (75) 4 (100) 4 (100) 5 (125) 5 (125)
point. For sizing a low vacuum distribution 150 71 3 (75) 4 (100) 4 (100) 4 (100) 5 (125) 5 (125) 5 (125)
system, use the vacuum sizing chart in Table 200 55 4 (100) 4 (100) 4 (100) 5 (125) 5 (125) 5 (125) 5 (125)
10-9, which is based on scfm (sL/s) flow rate 300 142 4 (100) 5 (125) 5 (125) 5 (125) 6 (150) 6 (150) 6 (150)
400 189 5 (125) 5 (125) 6 (150) 6 (150) 6 (150) 8 (200) 8 (200)
and friction loss in psi per 100-foot length of 500 236 5 (125) 6 (150) 6 (150) 6 (150) 8 (200) 8 (200) 8 (200)
piping. For a high vacuum pressure, use Table
10-9(A). Proceed from the furthest point to the
source. Enter Table 10-9 with the scfm (nL/m)
and find the value equal to or less than the

12 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012


Figure 10-5 Acceptable Leakage in Vacuum Systems
Source: Courtesy of Becker Pumps

DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 13


READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems

Table 10-11 Recommended Sizes of Hand Tools and Hose


Nominal Size Average Floor Removing Heavy Spills Standard Hose Length
Cleaning and Close Hand or Large Quantities of Overhead Vacuum
DN in. Moderate Spills Work Materials Cleaning ft m
25 1 Not used Yes Inadequate Not used 8 2.4
40 1 Excellent Yes Fair Preferred 25 and 50 7.5 and 15
50 2 Good No Good Poor 25 and 50 7.5 and 15
65 2 Not used No Excellent Not used 25 and 50 7.5 and 15
Source: Courtesy of Hoffman

Equation 10-6 the chemical action of the combined solid/liquid, and inlets
0.15V located throughout the facility.
T
L=
4.5 Codes and Standards
where No codes and standards directly govern the design and instal-
L = Leakage, scfm (sL/s)(To convert to metric, multiply L lation of vacuum cleaning systems. If dealing with explosive
by 0.4719.) powders, NFPA 68: Standard on Explosion Protection by
V = Total piping system volume, cubic feet (cubic meters)
Deflagration Venting and NFPA 69: Standard on Explosion
T = Time for vacuum pressure to drop 1 inch of mercury,
minutes Prevention Systems may apply.

After calculating the system volume and the leakage from System Components
the system, use Figure 10-5 to determine if the intersection Vacuum Producer
of the two values falls within the acceptable portion of the Vacuum producers for typical vacuum cleaning systems con-
chart. sist of a single or multistage centrifugal-type unit powered
by an electric motor. The housing can be constructed of vari-
VACUUM CLEANING SYSTEMS
ous materials to handle special chemicals and nonsparking
Vacuum cleaning systems are used to remove unwanted dirt, aluminum for potentially explosive dust. The discharge of
dust, and liquids from floors, walls, and ceilings. This involves the unit can be positioned at various points to accommodate
the use of either a permanent, centrally located system or the requirements of the exhaust piping system. Silencers,
portable, self-contained, electric-powered units. A central sound-attenuating enclosures, or rooms can be provided to
system transports the unwanted debris to a central location attenuate the noise.
where it can be disposed of or recovered easily. Portable units
can be moved throughout all areas of a facility. The design of Separator
portable units is outside the scope of this chapter. Separators are used to remove the solid particulates in
the airstream generated by the vacuum producer. For dry
Types of Systems and Equipment
systems, tubular-bag and centrifugal-type separators can
The three types of permanent systems are dry, wet, and be used.
combination. The dry system is intended exclusively for If only dust and other fine materials are expected, a
free-flowing dry material. It is the most commonly used type tubular-bag type is adequate. The bag is permanently in-
of system, with cleaning capabilities ranging from cleaning stalled and cannot be removed. It functions as an air filter
carpets to removing potentially toxic and explosive product for fine particles and collects a majority of the dirt. This dirt
spills from the floors of an industrial facility. Equipment eventually falls into a hopper or a dirt can at the bottom of
consists of a vacuum producer, one or more separators that the unit. To empty the entire unit, the system must be shut
remove collected materials from the airstream, tubing to down. The bag must be shaken to remove as much of the col-
convey the air and materials to the separator, and inlets lected material as possible and emptied into the dirt can. The
located throughout the facility. A wide variety of separators dirt can is removed (or the hopper is emptied into a separate
is available to allow disposal and recovery of the collected container) to clean out the unit. The dirt can should be sized
materials. to hold at least one full days storage. Units are available with
The wet system is intended exclusively for liquid handling multiple bags to increase filter bag area. Shaking can be done
and pickup. It is commonly found in healthcare, industrial, either manually or by motor. The motor-operated shaker
and laboratory facilities where sanitation is important and has adjustable timers to start operation after shut down of
frequent washings are required. Equipment consists of a the system and to shake the bags. If continuous operation
vacuum producer, a wet separator constructed to resist the is required, compressed air can be blown through the bag to
chemical action of the liquids involved, piping or tubing of a remove the dirt without requiring a shutdown.
material resistant to the chemical action of the liquid, and The centrifugal-type separator is designed to remove
inlets located throughout the facility. coarse, dry particles from the airstream. It also is recom-
A combination system is capable of both wet and dry mended when more than six simultaneous operators are
pickup. Equipment consists of a vacuum producer, a wet sepa- anticipated to remove the bulk of the dirt. The air enters
rator constructed to resist the chemical action of the liquid the separator tangential to the unit, and the air containing
mixtures involved, pipe or tubing of a material resistant to

14 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012


Table 10-12 Flow Rate and Friction Loss for Vacuum Cleaning Tools and Hoses
Use Nominal Size of Minimum Volume and Maximum Volume and
Tools and Hose Pressure Dropa Pressure Dropa
Volume, Pressure Volume, Pressure,
scfm Drop, in. Hg scfm in. Hg
Bench use 1-in. diam., 8-ft 40 1.20 50 1.90
1-in. flexible hose
White rooms or areas with very 1-in. diam., 50-ft 60 2.25 90 4.10
low dust content 1-in. flexible hose
Usual industrial 1-in. diam., 50-ft 70 2.80 100b 4.80
1-in. flexible hose
Fissionable materials or other 1-in. diam., 50-ft 100 2.50 120 4.20
heavy metallic dusts and minute 1-in. flexible hose
particles of copper, iron, etc.
Heavy spills, Cleaning railroad 2-in. diam., 50-ft 120 2.60 150 3.8
cars and ship holds 2-in. flexible hose
Source: Courtesy of Hoffman
Note: 1 scfm = 0.5 nL/s; 1 in. Hg = 3.4 kPa
a
The pressure drop in flexible hose is 2 times the pressure drop for the same length and size of Schedule 40 pipe.
b
Can be exceeded by 10% if necessary.

particulates is forced into a circular motion within the unit. Silencer


Centrifugal force accomplishes separation. When the exhaust from the vacuum producer is considered
The wet separator system collects the liquid, separates too noisy, a silencer shall be installed in the exhaust to reduce
the water from the airstream, and discharges the waste to the noise to an acceptable level. Pulsating airflow requires
the drain. This type of separator can be equipped with an special design considerations. The connection to the silencer
automatic overflow shutoff that stops the system if the wa- shall be made with a flexible connection. Additional support
ter level reaches a predetermined high-water level and with for the silencer is recommended. Filters and silencers can be
automatic emptying features. economically combined into a single, integral unit.
Immersion-type separators are used to collect explosive
Inlets
or flammable materials in a water compartment. If there is
a potential for explosion, such as exists in a grain or flour- Inlets are female inlet valves and are equipped with self-
handling facility, the separator shall be provided with an closing covers. They provide a quick connection for any male
integral explosion relief/rupture device that is vented to the hose or equipment. The covers can be locked as an option.
outside of the building. Many different inlet types are available, in sizes ranging
from 1 to 4 inches (40 to 100 millimeters) and of various
Filter materials.
Vacuum producers typically are exhausted to the outside air
Control and Check Valves
and do not require any filtration. However, when substances
removed from the facility are considered harmful to the envi- Valves for vacuum cleaning systems are different than
ronment, a HEPA filter must be installed in the discharge line standard valves. They are used to control the flow or stop
to prevent contamination of the outside air. The recommended the reverse flow of air in the system. When used only fully
location is between the separator and the vacuum producer, open or closed, they generally are referred to as blast gates.
but an alternate location immediately prior to penetration of When used as regulating valves, they are called wafer but-
the building wall or roof is also acceptable. terfly valves. A less costly substitute for a blast gate is an
air gate valve, which operates using a sliding plate in a

Table 10-13 Recommended Velocities for Vacuum Cleaning Systems


Horizontal Runs of Branches and
Nominal Tubing Size Mains and Vertical Downflow Risers Vertical Upflow Risers
Recommended Recommended
Minimum Velocity Max. Velocity (ft/ Minimum Velocity Max. Velocity (ft/
in. DN (ft/min) min) (ft/min) min)
1 40 1,800 3,000 2,600 3,800
2 50 2,000 3,500 3,000 4,200
2 65 2,200 3,900 3,200 4,700
3 75 2,400 4,200 3,800 5,100
4 100 2,800 4,900 4,200 6,000
5 125 3,000 5,400 4,800 6,500
6 150 3,400 6,000 5,000 7,200
Source: Courtesy of Hoffman
Note: 1 ft/min = 0.3 m/min

DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 15


READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems

Figure 10-6 Vacuum Cleaning Piping Friction Loss Chart

16 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012


Table 10-14 Pipe Size Based on Simultaneous Usage Table 10-15 Equivalent Length (ft) of
Line Diameter Number of Operators
Vacuum Cleaning Pipe Fittings
70 scfm, 140 scfm, Equivalent Length of Pipe
in. DN 1.5-in. hose 2-in. hose Nominal Pipe Size Fittings (ft)a
2 50 1 90 Change 45 Change
in. DN in Direction in Direction
2 65 2 1
1 32 3 1
3 75 3 2
1 40 4 2
4 100 5 3
2 50 5 2
5 125 8 4
2 65 6 3
6 150 12 6
3 75 7 4
8 200 20 10
4 100 10 5
Source: Courtesy of Spencer Turbine
Note: 1 scfm=0.5 sL/s 5 125 12 6
6 150 15 7
8 200 20 10
Notes: 1) For smooth-flow fittings, use 90% of these values.
2) 1 ft=0.3 m
a
Lengths based on use of cast-iron drainage fittings.

channel. The plate has a hole that matches the size of the length of hose selected for use. After this is decided, the inlet
opening in the channel, with room to close off the opening locations shall be planned in such a manner that all areas
completely. Air gates can be used only in low-pressure sys- can be reached by the selected hose length. This planning
tems and are generally available in sizes from 2 to 6 inches must take into account furniture, doorways, columns, and all
(50 to 150 millimeters). other obstructions. Some small overlap must be provided to
Check valves are typically spring-loaded, swing-type allow for hoses that cannot be stretched to the absolute end of
valves hinged in the center. their length. A 25-foot (7.5-meter) spacing should be provided
in areas where spills are frequent, heavy floor deposits may
Air-bleed Control occur, or frequent spot cleaning is necessary.
If the exhauster is constantly operated with low or no inlet Generally, several alternate locations are possible for any
air, the exhauster motor might become hot enough to require given valve. Inlets should be placed near room entrances.
shutdown due to overheating. To avoid this, an air-bleed Wherever possible, try to locate inlets in a constant pattern
device can be installed on the inlet to the exhauster that will on every floor. This allows for the location of common verti-
automatically allow air to enter the piping system. If the facil- cal risers since the distance between floors is less than the
ity indicates that this may be a possibility, the manufacturer distance between inlets. In any system, minimizing piping
of the unit should be consulted to determine the need for this system losses by a careful layout will be reflected in reduced
device for the system selected. power requirements for the exhauster.
Pipe and Fittings The inlets should be located between 24 and 36 inches
The pipe material most often used is thin-wall tubing, gener- (600 and 900 millimeters) above the floor.
ally in the range of 12 to 16 gauge. This tubing is available in Determining the Number of Simultaneous
plain carbon steel, zinc-coated steel, aluminum, and stainless Operators
steel. In some cases PVC can be used; however, you should This is another major design consideration because an under-
verify with the pipe manufacturer that it can be used for the designed system will not produce the desired level of vacuum
intended vacuum level of your system. and an oversized system will be costly.
Fittings are specially designed for a vacuum cleaning The maximum number of simultaneous operators is
system. Tubing typically is joined using shrink sleeves over decided by the facilitys housekeeping or maintenance de-
the joints. Compression fittings and flexible rubber sleeves partment and depends on a number of factors:
and clamps also are used. Tubing shall be supported every Is gang cleaning the preferred method? Is it pos-
8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3.1 meters), depending on size, under sible to alter this practice to result in a less costly
normal conditions. system?
Standard steel pipe often is used in areas where the ad- What is the maximum number of operators expected
ditional strength is required. In special areas where leakage to use the system at the same time?
prevention and strength are mandatory, the tubing joints Is the work done daily?
can be welded if required. If no information is available for a commercial facility,
Detailed System Design the following guidelines are based on experience and can be
used to estimate simultaneous use based on productivity.
Inlet Location and Spacing These figures consider the greater efficiency of using a central
The first step in system design is to locate the inlets through- system compared to portable units, often in the order of 25
out the facility. The spacing of the inlets depends on the
DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 17
READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems
Table 10-16 Classification of Material for Separator Selection
Very Fine Fine Granular Lumpy Irregular
Recom- Recom- Recom- Recom- Separator
Size of mended Ratio Vol. mended Ratio Vol. mended Ratio Vol. mended Ratio Vol. Selection &
material Sep. (S) Bag Area Sep. (S) Bag Area Sep. (S) Bag Area Sep. (S) Bag Area Bag Area
Small Cent. Not appl. Cent. Not appl. Cent. Not appl. Cent. Not appl.
dependent
Medium TB 6:1 Cent. and TB 6:1 Cent. Not appl. Cent. Not appl.
on material
Large Cent. and TB 3:1 Cent. and TB 6:1 Cent. and TB 6:1 Cent. Not appl.
Source: Courtesy of Spencer Turbine Co
Notes: 1. Centrifugal separators do not utilize bags.
2. Definition of terms:
Small: Light accumulations, such as those found in clean rooms, white rooms, laboratories, and so on.
Medium: Average accumulations, such as those found in classrooms, motels, assembly areas, and so on.
Large: Heavy accumulations, such as those found in foundries, spillage from conveyor belts, waste from processing machines, and so on.
Fine: 100 mesh to 8 in. (3.2 mm).
Very fine: Less than 100 mesh.
Granular: 8 to in. (3.2 to 12.7 mm).
Lumpy: Lumps in. (12.7 mm) and over.
Irregular: Fibrous, stringy, and so on.
3. Abbreviations: Cent. = centrifugal; TB = tubular bag.

percent. However, they must be verified and based on the Provide enough headroom for the piping above the equip-
actual methods anticipated. ment and for the various pieces to be brought easily into the
For carpets, one operator will be expected to cover room or area where they are to be installed.
20,000 square feet (1,860 square meters) of area for regular An ideal location is on the floor below the lowest inlet of
carpeting in an eight-hour shift. For long or shag carpets, the building or facility and centrally located to minimize the
the figure is about 10,000 square feet (930 square meters). differences at remote inlet locations.
Another generally accepted figure for short time periods is A convenient means to dispose of the collected debris
3,000 square feet per hour (280 square meters per hour) for should be available nearby. If a wet separator is used, an
standard floors, and 2,500 square feet per hour (233 square adequately sized floor drain is required.
meters per hour) for shag and long carpets. Enough room around the separators shall be provided
For hotels, an average figure of 100 rooms, including ad- to allow for easy inspection, and, where dirt bins must be
jacent corridors, per eight-hour shift would be expected. For emptied, room must be provided for the carts needed to move
long or shag carpets, the figure is about 75 rooms. them. Dry separators can be located outside the building for
For theaters, use the number of seats divided by 1,000 to direct truck disposal of the dirt, if sufficiently protected.
establish the number of simultaneous operators.
Sizing the Piping Network
For schools, 12 classrooms per day is an average figure
After the inlets and vacuum equipment have been located,
for a custodian to clean in addition to other duties normally
the layout of the piping system accomplished, and the num-
accomplished.
ber of simultaneous operators determined, system sizing
Inlet Valve, Tool, and Hose Sizing can begin.
The recommended sizes for hand tools and hose are given Cleaning systems using hose and tools shall have sufficient
in Table 10-11. capacity so that one pass over an area is all that is necessary
Experience has shown that 1-inch (40-DN) hose and for cleaning. With adequate vacuum, light to medium dirt
tools for cleaning floors, walls, and ceilings is the most prac- deposits shall be removed as fast as the operator moves the
tical size to use. Smaller 1-inch (25-DN) tools are used for floor tool across the surface. The actual cleaning agent is the
cleaning production tools, equipment, and benches. Larger velocity of the air sweeping across the floor.
hose and tools are used for picking up expected large spills
Vacuum Pressure Requirements and Hose Capacity
and cleaning large tanks, boxcars, and the holds of ships.
To achieve the necessary air velocity, the minimum recom-
Standard hoses are available in 25, 37.5, and 50-foot (7.5,
mended vacuum pressure for ordinary use is 2 inches of
12, and 15-meter) lengths. For general cleaning, the location
mercury (7 kPa). For hard-to-clean and industrial-type ma-
of inlet valves should allow for convenient cleaning, with a
terials, a vacuum pressure of 3 inches of mercury (10 kPa) is
maximum of 50 feet (15 meters) of hose. This represents a
required. The flow rate must be sufficient to bring the dirt into
labor savings by halving the number of times an operator has
the tool nozzle. Refer to Table 10-12 to determine the minimum
to change outlets. This length should not be exceeded, except
and maximum recommended flow rate of air and the friction
for occasional cleaning, because of excessive pressure drop.
losses of each hose size for the flow rate selected. For ordinary
Locating the Vacuum Producer Assembly carpeting and floor-cleaning purposes, a generally accepted
The vacuum producer assembly consists of the vacuum pro- flow rate of 70 scfm (35 sL/s) is recommended.
ducer, commonly called an exhauster, and the separators.
Recommended Velocity
The following shall be considered when locating the vacuum
The recommended velocity in the vacuum cleaning piping
equipment:
system depends on the pipes orientation (horizontal or
vertical) and size. Since the velocity of the air in the pipe

18 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012


conveys the suspended particles, it should be kept within a Sizing the Piping
recommended range. Refer to Table 10-13 for recommended Refer to Table 10-14 to select the initial pipe size based on
velocities based on pipe size and orientation of the pipe. the number of simultaneous operators. This table has been
The air velocity moves the dirt in the system. Oversizing calculated to achieve the minimum velocity of air required for
the pipe will lead to low velocity and poor system perfor- adequate cleaning. In this table, line refers to permanently
mance. installed pipe from the inlet to the separator, and hose is
Selecting the Number of Outlets Used the hose connecting the tool to the inlet. A hose size of 1
Simultaneously inches (40 DN) is recommended, except where the material
Facilities may have many inlet valves, but only a few inlet to be cleaned will not pass through hose of this size or where
valves will be used at once. Under normal operating condi- a large volume of material is expected.
tions, these inlets are chosen at random by the operators. To After the initial selection of pipe sizes, the actual velocity
aid in the determination of simultaneous usage, the following and friction loss based on the anticipated flow rates in each
conditions, which should be expected, are given: section of the piping system should be checked by using
Adjacent inlet valves will not be used simultane- Figure 10-6. This chart provides a more accurate method of
ously. determining the pipe size, friction loss, and velocity of the
For the purposes of calculating simultaneous use, the system. To use it, enter the chart with the adjusted scfm
most remote inlet on the main and the inlet closest and allowable pressure loss. Read the pipe size at the point
to the separator will be assumed to be in use, along where these two values intersect. If this point is between
with other inlet valves between the two. lines, use the larger pipe size. If any parameter is found to
Where mains and outlets are located on several floors, be outside any of the calculated ranges, the pipe size should
the use of inlets will be evenly distributed along a be revised.
main on one floor or on different floors. Pipe sizing is an iterative procedure, and the sizes may
For long horizontal runs on one floor, allow for two have to be adjusted to reduce or increase friction loss and
operators on that branch. velocity as design progresses.

Figure 10-7 Schematic of a Typical Wet Vacuum Cleaning Pump Assembly

DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 19


READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems
Piping System Friction Losses discharge into an HVAC exhaust duct that is routed directly
With the piping network sized, the next step is to calculate outside the building.
the precise worst-case total system friction losses, in inches For a piped exhaust, if the end is elbowed down, it shall
of mercury (kPa), to size the exhauster. Friction losses are be a minimum of 8 feet (2.4 meters) above grade. If the end
calculated by adding all of the following values, starting with is vertical, an end cap shall be installed to prevent rain from
the inlet most remote from the exhauster and continuing to entering the pipe. A screen should be used to prevent insects
the source: from entering. The size shall be equal to or one size larger
Initial level of vacuum required: For average conditions, than the size of the pipe into the exhauster. Use HVAC duct-
the generally accepted figure is 2 inches of mercury (6.8 kPa). work sizing methods to find the size of the exhaust piping
For hard-to-clean material, industrial applications, and long while keeping the air pressure loss to a minimum.
shag-type carpet, the initial vacuum should be increased to The pressure loss through the exhaust pipe shall be added
3 inches of mercury (10.2 kPa). to the exhauster inlet pressure drop, the total of which will
Pressure drop through the hose and tool: Refer to Table be calculated into the pressure that the exhauster must
10-12 for the friction loss through individual tools and hose overcome. For short runs of about 20 feet (6 meters), this
based on the intended size and length of hose and the flow can be ignored.
rate selected for the project. To account for the various fittings comprising the exhaust
Loss of vacuum pressure due to friction of the air in the system, an additional 30 percent should be added to the mea-
pipe: Losses in the straight runs of the piping system are sured run to calculate the equivalent piping run.
based on the flow rate of the air in the pipe at the point of Exhauster Rating Adjustments
design. (Refer to Figure 10-6.) Fittings are figured separately, For systems with very long runs or complex systems with
using an equivalent length of pipe added to the straight run. both long and short runs of piping, some adjustment in the
Refer to Table 10-15 to determine the equivalent length of selected inlet flow rate (in cfm {liters per second]) shall be
run for each type and size of fitting. Starting from the farthest made. This is necessary because the actual flow rate at the
inlet, use the cfm, pipe size, fitting allowance, and pipe length inlets closest to the exhauster will be greater than the cfm
along the entire run of pipe to find the total friction loss. at the end of the longest run due to the smaller friction loss.
Loss through the separator: A generally accepted figure is The adjustment will establish an average inlet flow rate for
1 inch of mercury (3.4 kPa) loss through all types of separa- all inlets that will be used for sizing instead of the selected
tors. However, the exact figure must be obtained from the inlet flow rate.
manufacturer. To establish the adjusted flow rate, it is necessary to
Exhaust line loss: This usually can be ignored except for calculate separately the total system friction loss for each
long runs. Allow 0.1 inch of mercury (0.34 kPa) as an average branch line containing inlets nearest and farthest from the
figure for a run of 100 feet (30 meters). exhauster. Following the procedures previously explained
Vacuum Producer Sizing will result in minimum and maximum system friction loss
figures.
Exhauster Inlet Rating Determination The following formula can be used to calculate the ad-
It is now possible to size the exhauster. The two exhauster justed cfm (liters per second):
ratings that must be known to select the size and horsepower Equation 10-7
are the worst-case piping system vacuum pressure losses and farthest inlet
the flow rate, in scfm (sL/s), of air required by the system. friction loss (in. Hg) selected cfm
adjusted cfm= closest inlet
The vacuum pressure required from the exhauster is the
total pressure necessary to overcome all piping system losses. friction loss (in. Hg)
This consists of the total pressure drop from all components
The adjusted figure is used instead of the selected flow
in the piping network from the inlet farthest from the ex-
rate and multiplied by the number of simultaneous operators
hauster. Included are the initial inlet vacuum level required,
to size the exhauster.
pressure lost through the tool and hose selected, friction
All of the above calculations are based on scfm (sL/s) at sea
loss of air flowing through the piping system, pressure lost
level. If the location of the project is at an elevation higher
through separators, filters, and silencers, and finally the ex-
than sea level, the figure should be adjusted to allow for the
haust pressure to be overcome, if required. These values are
difference in barometric pressure. Refer back to Table 10-5
added to establish the vacuum rating of the exhauster.
for the factor. This factor shall be multiplied by the figure
The flow rate of the air, in scfm (sL/s), enter-
to calculate the adjusted flow rate to be used in sizing the
ing the system is calculated by multiplying the
exhauster.
number of simultaneous operators by the scfm
Another adjustment to the scfm (sL/s) figure used to size
(sL/s) selected as appropriate for the intended cleanup re-
the exhauster is required if the equipment manufacturer
quirements. For smaller, less complex systems, using only the
uses icfm (iL/s) instead of scfm (sL/s). icfm (iL/s) is the ac-
actual selected inlet cfm (L/s) is sufficient.
tual volume of air at the inlet of the exhauster using local
Exhauster Discharge temperature and barometric conditions. Previously discussed
The discharge from the exhauster is usually steel pipe routed temperature and barometric conversions shall be used.
outside the building. It is also possible to route the exhauster

20 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012


Separator Selection and Sizing REFERENCES
The separator is sized based on the cfm (liters per second) 1. Albern, W. F., Vacuum Piping Systems, Building
of the vacuum producer and the type of material expected Systems Design, 1972.
to be collected. Refer to Table 10-16 for a classification of 2. Frankel, M., Facility Piping Systems Handbook,
such material. McGraw-Hill, 1996.
For dry separators, a starting point for sizing would pro- 3. Harris, Nigel S., Modern Vacuum Practice, McGraw-
vide a 6:1 ratio of filter bag area to bag volume for smaller Hill, 1990.
volumes of coarse material and a 3:1 ratio for fine dust and 4. Hesser, Henry H., Vacuum Sources, Pumps and
larger quantities of all material. Wet and centrifugal separa- Systems Magazine, August 1993.
tor sizing is proprietary to each manufacturer and depends on 5. Design of Hoffman Industrial Vacuum Cleaning Sys-
the quantity and type of material expected to be removed. tems, Hoffman Industries.
Some automatic separator cleaning systems use com- 6. McSweeney, D.P., and R. Glidden, Vacuum Cleaning
pressed air to aid in the dislodging of dust. The air pressure Systems, (unpublished manuscript), 1993.
recommended is generally in the range of 100 to 125 psig 7. Moffat, R., Putting Industrial Vacuum to Work,
(689 to 1,034 kPa). Hydraulics and Pneumatics Magazine, 1987.
General Design Considerations 8. How to Design Spencer Central Vacuum Systems,
Abrasion is the wearing away of the interior of the pipe Spencer Turbine Co.
wall by large, hard particles at the point where these particles
strike the pipe. The effects are greatest at changes of direc-
tion, such as at elbows and tees and under the bag plates of
separators. When abrasive particles are expected, it is recom-
mended that either cast iron drainage fittings or Schedule
40 steel pipe fittings using sanitary pattern sweeps and tees
be substituted for normally used tubing materials.
It is good practice to provide a safety factor to ensure that
additional capacity is available from the exhauster without
affecting the available vacuum. This should not exceed
5 percent of the total cfm (liters per second) and is used
only when selecting the exhauster, not for sizing the piping
system. The exhauster size should be selected and then the
safety factor added. The unit selected should have that extra
flow available.
The piping shall be pitched toward the separator. Plugged
cleanouts should be installed at the base of all risers and at
90-degree changes in direction to allow any blockages to be
easily cleared.
Piping geometry in the design of wet system piping could
become critical. Every effort shall be made to keep the piping
below the inlet valves to prevent any liquid from running out
of the inlet after completion of the cleaning routines and to
ease the flow of liquid into the pipe. Wet system pipe should
pitch back to the separator at about 8 inches per foot (1 centi-
meter per meter). All drops should be no larger than 2 inches
(50 millimeters) in size, and only one inlet shall be placed on
a single drop. Each drop should terminate in a plugged tee
facing down. This will allow any liquid still clinging to the
sides of the pipe to collect at the bottom of the riser and be
carried away the next time the system is used. A typical wet
vacuum cleaning system is shown in Figure 10-7.
In facilities using controlled substances, there is always
a possibility that a spill will occur. For cleaning this type of
spill, a portable vacuum cleaning unit should be selected so
that the filter can easily be weighed both before and after
cleanup to account for the controlled substances picked up
in the cleaning unit.

DECEMBER 2012 Read, Learn, Earn 21


READ, LEARN, EARN: Vacuum Systems

ASPE Read, Learn, Earn Continuing Education


You may submit your answers to the following questions online at aspe.org/readlearnearn. If you score 90 percent or higher on the test,
you will be notified that you have earned 0.1 CEU, which can be applied toward CPD renewal or numerous regulatory-agency CE pro-
grams. (Please note that it is your responsibility to determine the acceptance policy of a particular agency.) CEU information will be kept
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Notice for North Carolina Professional Engineers: State regulations for registered PEs in North Carolina now require you to complete ASPEs
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Expiration date: Continuing education credit will be given for this examination through December 31, 2013.

CE Questions Vacuum Systems (CEU 194)


1. A vacuum pressure of 2.456 kilopascals would be considered 7. What is the allowable high-to-low pressure loss for high
_______. vacuum applications?
a. rough a. 3 to 5 in. Hg
b. medium b. 1 in. Hg for each 100 feet of pipe
c. high c. 0.12 to 0.2 in. Hg
d. ultra-high d. 10.2 to 16.9 kPa
2. For each 1,000-foot increase in altitude, atmospheric pressure 8. The source pump for laboratories is selected using _______.
drops by approximately _______. a. gas flow rate at all inlets
a. 0.5 in. Hg b. diversity factor for the whole facility
b. 1 in. Hg c. a range of vacuum pressures
c. 1.5 in. Hg d. all of the above
d. 2 in. Hg
9. Which of the following fittings could be used in a vacuum
3. To find the total force of a vacuum system acting on a load, cleaning system?
multiply the ________ by the surface area on which the vacuum a. compression fittings
is acting. b. flexible rubber sleeves
a. volume of system c. shrink sleeves
b. vacuum pressure loss d. all of the above
c. vacuum pressure
10. The minimum recommended vacuum pressure for ordinary use
d. none of the above
of a vacuum cleaning system is _______.
4. Which of the following is an example of a dry vacuum pump? a. 1 in. Hg
a. recirculating oil-sealed rotary vane b. 2 in. Hg
b. rotary screw c. 3 in. Hg
c. centrifugal d. 4 in. Hg
d. both b and c
11. For a vacuum cleaning system with three simultaneously used
5. The usual working pressure of a standard laboratory vacuum 1-inch hoses at 70 scfm pressure, the line diameter should be
system is _______. _______.
a. 12 to 21 in. Hg a. 2 inches
b. 24 to 29 in. Hg b. 2 inches
c. 29.64 to 29.88 in. Hg c. 3 inches
d. none of the above d. 4 inches
6. A suitable material for the laboratory vacuum system 12. To calculate the equivalent piping run for a vacuum cleaning
distribution piping is _______. system exhaust system, add an additional _______ to the
a. stainless steel measured run to account for the fittings.
b. PVC a. 20 percent
c. type K copper tube b. 25 percent
d. all of the above c. 30 percent
d. 35 percent

22 Read, Learn, Earn DECEMBER 2012