Mechanical Engineering Department
BS in Mechanical Engineering
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has invested considerable effort in developing fireproof high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. Due to the nature of LLNL’s research, the air leaving its lab facilities must be filtered before it is released into the atmosphere; thus, each laboratory is equipped with large banks of HEPA filters through which all internal air is exhausted. Over the years, however, fires have erupted in the labs and entire banks of HEPA filters have been destroyed, resulting in repairs and crucial downtime that prove costly.
Engineers and scientists alike have been seeking a permanent solution to this problem, and one proposition is to make the filters themselves fireproof rather than installing sprinkler systems and other preventative measures to protect them, as is the current practice. The challenge is to make HEPA filters fireproof. HEPA filters are comprised of several critical components: the filter media material, the sealant, and the gasket. None of these components are designed to withstand any more than a few hundred degrees Fahrenheit, so LLNL solicited the help of Cal Poly senior project teams in investigating materials that might.