Solving Indoor Air Quality Challenges with Science

Manufacturing and industrial processes create significant challenges for indoor air quality. Excessive fumes, dust and particulate can impact employee health and safety, create contamination problems on production lines, and leave your facility vulnerable to dangerous combustible dust explosions. We are here to solve your toughest air quality challenges with a science-based approach to industrial ventilation and air filtration system design and engineering.

We’ll help you find the most efficient, effective and practical approach to controlling dust and fumes in your environment.

  • Ensure compliance with OSHA, NFPA, EPA and ATEX regulations for dust & fume control
  • Dilute or remove contaminants from the air with ventilation and air filtration
  • Optimize your system for efficiency and energy savings
  • Balance your system to maintain proper airflow and pressure in each zone
  • Control airflow to prevent migration of fugitive dust or fumes
  • Prevent fires and combustible dust explosions

Industrial Air Filtration and Ventilation Solutions

industrial air filtration ventilation types

A Single Source for All Your Industrial Air Filtration and Ventilation Needs

At RoboVent, we provide turnkey services for industrial air filtration and ventilation, including system design and engineering, installation, system balancing, and ongoing service and maintenance.

  • Single-source provider: no need to hire different contractors for different parts of the job.
  • Best-in-class equipment for an effective, long-lasting and efficient filtration & ventilation system.
  • Deep experience in industrial ventilation system design for a solution you can trust.
industrial air filtration process

Industrial Ventilation and Air Filtration 101

Many industrial and manufacturing processes create dangerous dust, fumes and airborne contaminants. Industrial ventilation and air filtration are critical to protect the health and safety of employees and guests and ensure compliance with Federal, state and local air quality regulations. Here’s what you should know about industrial ventilation and how to select the right combination of local exhaust ventilation, displacement (or dilution) ventilation, and air filtration.

All structures—including residential, commercial and industrial buildings—need some form of ventilation. Ventilation removes stale air from the facility and adds fresh air, improving indoor air quality (IAQ). The HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system is one form of whole-facility ventilation, circulating air through the heating or cooling systems and adding fresh air from outside.

In industrial facilities, the ventilation provided by the HVAC system alone is rarely adequate to maintain a clean, healthy environment. Industrial ventilation and air filtration are used to remove or dilute fumes, particulates, contaminants and heat that builds up from industrial processes. Industrial ventilation and air filtration:

  • Improve employee comfort and health.
  • Remove noxious odors and particulates.
  • Remove excess heat and/or humidity from processes.
  • Reduce exposure to harmful contaminants in the air.
  • Prevent the buildup of combustible dusts that could cause an explosion.
  • Reduce cross-contamination of production lines from fugitive dust.

There are several options when it comes to industrial ventilation and air filtration.

  • Natural ventilation: The simplest type of ventilation, natural ventilation can be accomplished by simply opening windows, doors or other openings to allow air to circulate naturally between the indoor and outdoor environments. Natural ventilation can work when the fume or particulate load is not very high or very dangerous, but it has obvious drawbacks when it comes to energy efficiency and temperature control.
  • General exhaust ventilation: General exhaust ventilation is used to turn over air for the whole facility or a large zone. Exhaust ventilation uses fans to pull contaminated air out of the building. To maintain pressure, there must also be a source of fresh make-up air coming into the facility.
  • Local exhaust ventilation: Local exhaust ventilation is used to capture and remove emissions from point emission sources. Like general exhaust ventilation, it simply exhausts air to the outside.
  • Air filtration: Air filtration systems use filters to remove contaminants from the air rather than simply exhausting contaminated air to the environment. Cleaned air may be vented to the outside or returned to the facility. An air filtration system is often paired with a dust collector to gather and dispose of particulates.

Industrial ventilation and air filtration are forms of engineering controls. They are used to control emissions and exposures to hazardous substances in the workplace, including noxious, toxic, carcinogenic and combustible dust and fumes from industrial processes. There are several organizations with regulations or standards governing industrial ventilation and air filtration. Relevant regulations and standards include:

Read more: Staying Ahead of Clean Air Regulations.

Industrial ventilation and air filtration improve employee health and safety by reducing exposure to toxic, noxious, hazardous or carcinogenic substances in the air. Maintaining clean, fresh air for employees to breath is one of the essential elements of workplace health and safety.

In the U.S., manufacturers must comply with OSHA regulations for workplace health and safety. OSHA regulations related to indoor air quality (IAQ) for general industry fall under standard 29 CFR 1910. Here are the basics:

  • OSHA sets permissible exposure limits (PELs) for nuisance dusts and hazardous or toxic substances. The general limit for “Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated” (PNOLs) is 15 mg/m3 (8-hour TWA limit) for total particulate and 5 mg/m3 for respirable particulates. Hazardous, toxic or carcinogenic substances such as heavy metals, fiberglass dust and respirable crystalline silica have specific PELs related to their hazard level. Manufacturers have a duty to ensure that workers are not exposed to dangerous substances in levels above the PEL.
  • OSHA requires that engineering controls such as industrial ventilation and air filtration be used as a first line of defense against toxic or hazardous airborne substances; personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks or gas masks are to be used only when engineering controls cannot bring exposures down to acceptable levels.

Read more: OSHA Regulations for Clean Air.

Industrial ventilation and air filtration help to mitigate the risk of a dangerous combustible dust explosion by capturing and filtering explosive dust before it can build up to combustible levels. Many of the dusts produced by industrial processes are highly combustible, including metalworking dust; sugar, starch, grain and flour dust; and plastic dust. When allowed to concentrate in a confined area, these dusts can become explosive.

Combustion can only happen when dust builds up to the right concentration within an enclosed area in the presence of oxygen (always present in the air) and an ignition source (such as a spark or static electricity). Reducing the concentration of dust in the air is an important element of combustible dust safety. There are five elements necessary for a combustion to occur, sometimes known as the “Explosion Pentagon.”

Both OSHA and NFPA have developed standards for the control of combustible dust that include the use of industrial ventilation and air filtration. These include:

Read more: Combustible Dusts

Local exhaust ventilation is used to pull contaminated air from point sources away from workers and keep contaminants out of the breathing zone. Local exhaust ventilation can save energy by removing emissions right at the source. This reduces the volume of air that must be moved each minute (CFM) to keep contaminants under control. It also saves on heating and air conditioning costs by minimizing the volume of temperature-controlled air vented to the outside and hot or cold air coming in.

Local exhaust ventilation is best used when:

  • Emissions are highly hazardous or noxious.
  • Emissions are concentrated from a few point sources.
  • Emission sources can be contained under a hood or in a booth.
  • Large amounts of dust or fumes are generated.
  • Heating or air conditioning costs for ventilation are a concern.

Here is how a local exhaust ventilation system works:

  • Exhaust points are positioned as close as possible to the emission source.
  • The exhaust fans pull air away from the workers’ breathing zone (up or back away from the work area).
  • Fresh make-up air is returned to the area from behind the work zone.
  • Contaminated air can be directly exhausted outside, filtered to remove contaminants, or ducted to a dust collector.

Dilution (or displacement) ventilation is a form of whole-facility ventilation used to dilute dangerous contaminants in air. Dilution ventilation can also be used to reduce exposure to airborne pathogens such as the coronavirus.

Dilution ventilation is best used when:

  • Contaminants are not highly hazardous.
  • Emissions are evenly distributed through the space or cannot be easily contained.
  • Workers are not working in the immediate vicinity of the emission source.

Here is how a dilution ventilation system works:

  • Large exhaust fans are positioned in the walls or roof to pull air out of the space.
  • A make-up air system adds fresh air from the outside.
  • The system continually cycles air throughout the entire space to remove contaminated air and introduce new, fresh air.
  • The system must be designed to pull contaminated air away from areas where people are working and not recirculate contaminated air back through the breathing zone. This can be accomplished by positioning the exhaust fans and make-up air vents correctly.

Most ventilation systems include both exhaust (fans pulling air out) and supply (make-up air systems).

When air is removed from an enclosed space, new air must be introduced to balance the system. Without make-up air, the pressure in the space becomes unbalanced (negative pressure) because more air is leaving the space than coming into it.

Balancing the pressure in the system is an important part of industrial ventilation design. In many cases, you will want the pressure to be neutral, with the same amount of air coming in and going out. But positive and negative pressure zones can also be used strategically to prevent fugitive dust from escaping from an area or control the flow of air through the facility. For example, pressure zones can be used to prevent fugitive dust from industrial processes from entering a different zone of the building such as office space, shipping or a more sensitive manufacturing process.

Simple exhaust ventilation systems just vent contaminated air to the outside. But these systems are not appropriate for all situations. Unfiltered exhaust systems should not be used when:

  • Large amounts of dust or fumes are created by industrial processes.
  • Dust or fumes are highly hazardous to people and the environment.
  • The use of simple exhaust ventilation puts the facility out of compliance with EPA Clean Air Act regulations.
  • There is a risk that contaminated air will re-enter the facility through openings or make-up air systems.
  • The cost of heating or cooling large volumes of air from exhaust and make-up air systems is prohibitive.

In these situations, it is advisable to use some form of filtration and dust collection.

  • Filters can be added to the exhaust ventilation system to prevent hazardous emissions from escaping the facility when air is vented to the outside.
  • Filters are used in the make-up air system to keep dust, pollen and other outdoor contaminants out of the building.
  • If your processes produce large quantities of particulate, it is best to use a dust collection system. An industrial dust collector will filter the air and gather collected particulates into a bin for proper disposal. Clean, filtered air can be vented to the outside or returned to the facility. Returning filtered air to the facility will reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Often, the best choice is a hybrid system that combines ventilation with dust collection and filtration for a total air quality solution.

Not sure which form of industrial ventilation and air filtration is right for you? Talk to one of our experts! We will help you define your air quality goals and design a system that works for you. Just fill out the form or call us at 888-298-4214 to get started.


Whether you need a new industrial ventilation and filtration system, or just need to service or upgrade your existing system, we’re here to help. Just fill out the form or call us at 888-298-4214 to get started.