How a Fume Hood Works

How a Fume Hood Works


A fume hood is a ventilated enclosure in which gases, vapors and fumes are captured and removed from the work area. An exhaust fan situated on the top of the laboratory building pulls air and airborne contaminants through connected ductwork and exhausts them to the atmosphere.

The typical fume hood found in Princeton University laboratories is equipped with a movable front sash and an interior baffle. Depending on its design, the sash may move vertically, horizontally or a combination of the two and provides some protection to the hood user by acting as a barrier between the worker and the experiment.

The slots and baffles within the hood direct the air and, in many hoods, can be adjusted to allow the most even flow. It is important to prevent the baffles from becoming blocked, by excessive material storage or equipment, since this significantly affects the exhaust path within the hood and as a result, the efficiency of hood capture. 

The beveled frame around the hood face, called the airfoil, allows for even air flow into the hood by eliminating sharp curves to reduce turbulence.

how fume hood works diagram

There are two basic types of fume hoods. They are:


Constant volume – where the exhaust flowrate or quantity of air pulled through the hood is constant. In this configuration, when the sash is lowered and the cross-sectional area of the hood opening decreases, the velocity of airflow (face velocity) through the hood increases proportionally. Thus, the velocity of air at the hood face is increased with the lowering of the sash.

Variable air volume (VAV) - where the exhaust flowrate or quantity of air pulled through the hood varies as the sash is raised or lowered in order to maintain a constant face velocity. Therefore, when the sash is lowered and the cross-sectional area of the hood opening decreases, the velocity of air flow (face velocity) through the hood remains constant, reducing the total air volume exhausted.

Illustration of Fume Hood With Horizontal Sash

Fume Hood With Horizontal and Vertical Sash