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How Do Cleanroom Air Showers Work?

December 20, 2022
” ISO-7 modular cleanroom exterior, cleanroom doors, gown room
Figure 1. Airshower

Air showers are used to clean particles off personnel before they enter a cleanroom. They are typically used for higher classification cleanrooms (ISO-5 /class 100 cleanrooms, ISO-6 / class 1000 cleanrooms) and are very popular in the semiconductor industry.

ISO cleanroom classification table, particles per cubic meter, ISO-5 thru ISO-8
Figure 2. Air shower in gown room

Before entering the cleanroom air shower, personnel will gown up to encapsulate any particles they might have on their clothes or body. Depending on the size of the cleanroom air shower, anywhere from 1 to 3 people can open the door and enter. After entering, the cleanroom air shower blows HEPA filtered air on them for 20-40 seconds to remove any particles. Once the cycle is complete, the personnel exit thru the second door into the cleanroom. The doors of the cleanroom air shower are typically interlocked so only one door can be open at a time to prevent particles from entering the cleanroom from the exterior.

The air shower blasts HEPA filtered air thru nozzles in the ceilings and both walls at 8000 feet/minute on the standing personnel. A typical 4’x6’ air shower has 6 nozzles in the ceiling and 11 nozzles on each wall to blast the air. This results in the cleanroom air shower having 800 air changes per hour – more than double the requirement for ISO-5 cleanrooms.

interior cleanroom air shower, nozzles on walls
Figure 3. Cleanroom Air Shower interior

Cleanroom Air Showers Are Customizable

There are different air shower sizes, door opening locations and height.

  • Standard cleanroom air showers – anywhere from 4’ to 8’ long and 10’ high
  • Low profile (94” high) cleanroom air shower for existing 8’ cleanroom ceiling
  • Tunnel cleanroom air shower– for high number of people – can be as wide as 8’ and as long as 30’
  • Material air showers with roll up doors to accommodate large carts with material
construction work, installing air shower
Figure 4. Air Shower being installed

A cleanroom air shower can be constructed of different materials depending on the industry of the cleanroom (semiconductor cleanroom, pharmaceutical cleanroom, chemical cleanroom, hazardous material cleanroom, or industrial cleanroom).

Options include:

  • Plastic laminate cleanroom panels
  • Painted Aluminum cleanroom panels
  • Stainless Steel cleanroom panels

There are also may be special building code requirements for air showers so options include:

  • Fire rated doors
  • Sprinklers inside air shower

Cleanroom Air Showers Applications:

  • Air showers used for personnel entering a cleanroom (most common).
  • Air showers used for personnel exiting a cleanroom (when working with hazardous material).
  • Air shower used to clean material on a cleanroom cart before it enters the cleanroom. This replaces labor intensive wiping down of material.

Conclusion:

Air showers are an expensive (starting at $25k each depending on size) but effective way to clean cleanroom personnel. They are most popular in semiconductor industry who typically have large ISO-5 and ISO-6 cleanrooms with many employees going in and out. Beware of lower cost imported air showers that do not have sufficient air velocity and air changes per hour to effectively clean personnel and material.

Property American Cleanroom Systems 2022

The author Anthony Chien has worked at American Cleanroom Systems for the past 10 years. He has more than 40 years of cleanroom experience. Anthony has a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering specializing in semiconductor manufacturing from the University of Illinois. American Cleanroom Systems is a design-build modular cleanroom manufacturer based in Rancho Santa Margarita CA. American Cleanroom Systems is your expert in ISO-5 thru ISO-8 (class 100 to class 100k) modular cleanrooms for pharmaceutical cleanrooms, medical device cleanrooms, and industrial cleanrooms.
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