University lab tests larger livestock ventilation fans, keeps pace
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[October 22, 2007]
URBANA -- As animal housing continues to move
toward larger buildings, the research team at the Bioenvironmental
and Structural Systems Lab at the University of Illinois is working
hard to keep up with industry trends. What this means is that the
lab, which is known worldwide for testing livestock ventilation
fans, is checking out larger and larger fans.
"For most new construction, the standard 'large' fan is no
longer 48 inches, but rather 50 to 54 inches," said Steven Ford,
a research engineer in the U of I Department of Agricultural and
Biological Engineering and manager of the BESS Lab. "Airflow
rates have increased proportionally, so fan airflow capacities
are reaching the limit of our current test chamber."
Therefore, Ford has taken the lead on garnering industry support
to build a larger test chamber.
"We have funds committed from ag ventilation companies in
Canada, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Alabama," said Ford, "as
well as in-kind equipment donations from companies in Illinois
The BESS Lab first opened in 1990 to provide unbiased
engineering data to aid in the design, development and selection
of efficient livestock ventilation fans. The lab tests
ventilation fans sent to them by equipment manufacturers, or the
manufacturers can rent the lab for a day, which Ford said is the
most economical option.
"Companies bring their fans to the lab, along with one or two
people to assist with the setup," he said. "This helps keep
costs low and industry participation high, which ultimately is
good for the livestock producer."
Ford estimated that the lab has done more than 3,000 tests
over the last 16 years. "We work with manufacturing companies
around the country. We've tested fans from Europe and even
Australia. We're fairly well-known throughout the ag ventilation
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Manufacturers have the option of listing their test data in
"Agricultural Ventilation Fans: Performance and Efficiencies," a
biennial publication that provides performance test results of over
800 commercially available fans. This information can be accessed at
www.bess.uiuc.edu, or a hard
copy of the book can be purchased through the Midwest Plan Service
at www.mwps.org or the National
Food and Energy Council at
www.nfec.org as well.
Ford pointed to the impact testing has had on ventilation fan
performance over the years.
"From 1991 to 2003, the average airflow performance of commercial
livestock ventilation fans increased over 15 percent, and average
electrical efficiency increased more than 20 percent," he noted.
"Those numbers tell me that manufacturers will improve their product
performance when there is an active performance test lab."
Ultimately, said Ford, the goal is to help producers make more
informed choices in ag ventilation systems.
"The right fan will reduce odors, minimize the health risk of
inhaling dust-laden air and optimize profits," he concluded.
"Efficient ventilation systems are essential to producers."
[Text from file received from
the University of Illinois
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences]