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Filter Research & Selection

A project log for Portable Professional Fume Extractor

An open source professional, portable, high-filtration fume extractor built out of ewaste and off the shelf parts that won't break the bank.

Anthony KouttronAnthony Kouttron 08/24/2019 at 07:460 Comments

Knowing that the fan was capable of the job and having a clear line of reasoning, I set about researching filter material. I came across similar carbon foam / carbon mesh filters used in the low-cost fume extractors and oddly, fish tanks. It turns out the material is quite similar and can be picked up at pet stores, amazon and Walmart. I started by sampling different brands and vendors of this carbon mesh material. Each vendor and brand had a different texture, density and thickness. I was very unsatisfied with these results and went ahead and researched different filtering materials. I found out that activated charcoal was one of the main sources of filtration materials used in everything from stove top fume hoods to big factory scrubbers. Activated charcoal works incredibly well at trapping organic particles that would otherwise be considered IDLH (In Danger to Life and Health). The combination of an activated carbon filter and a small particle filter, such as a HEPA filter, would be an ideal setup for a fume extractor. It turns out, this is exactly the setup found in most high end professional fume extractors. I purchased a new in box filter from a Hakko FA430 for confirmation. Here it is below:

Besides this, it is common for filter setups to have a preliminary filter or pre-filter as the top most layer in the filter stack. The pre-filter is designed to keep large debris out of the HEPA filter to extend the life of the HEPA filter.  Pre-filter material also tends to vary from vendor to vendor, but I couldn't help but notice the similarity between professional pre-filters and common interfacing sold at fabric stores. The texture, thickness and even porous nature are a near match. Interfacing is also 100% polyester.

With a bit more research, I started looking into the various HEPA house filters and came across an activated carbon based house filter. This combination looked most promising and is the setup I am testing currently. I am starting off with 1in thick house filters made by reputable filter companies such as 3M and Honeywell.

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