EAST HANOVER, NJ — Pure, odorless air is so important in Givaudan’s new flavor laboratory here in East Hanover that sensory evaluators are prohibited from using cologne, deodorant, and scented soap. The HVAC system, which introduces 100% outside air, must also eliminate all odors and particulates, as well as dehumidify in the summer and humidify in the winter.

Givaudan recently built a $1.5 million two-story, 5,000-square-foot addition to its plant, which is one of dozens of plants the 106-year-old Switzerland-based flavor and fragrance manufacturer owns worldwide on six continents.

The state-of-the-art, 500-square-foot Quality Services Laboratory (sample preparation area) and 100-square-foot flavor-tasting evaluation room consume little space, but they initiated the building of the addition.

Besides guaranteed odor elimination, consulting engineer Thomas A. Fitzpatrick III, P.E., T.A., Fitzpatrick Associates, North Brunswick, NJ, also had space limitations that were solved by specifying dehumidification, heating, and cooling, plus two types of air purification, all in one custom packaged rooftop unit. The Model RK-015 was manufactured by Dectron Internationale, Roswell, GA.

Specifying one packaged unit not only eliminated the need for installing and interfacing several pieces of dedicated equipment; it also gave the equipment a smaller, visually appealing footprint on the plant’s roof.


Andrew Cirillo, a sales engineer at manufacturer’s representative firm Stillwell-Hansen, Edison, NJ, served as a liaison between consulting engineer and manufacturer.

“When you try to coordinate equipment from different manufacturers, you’re faced with possible compatibility problems,” said Fitzpatrick. “Luckily, Dectron has its Designer Indoor AirÒ (DIA) program, so combining everything into one package and having one factory oversee it gave us the single-source responsibility we needed on the project.”

The vital function of the HVAC system — the creation of pure, odorless air — comes from a combination of a chemically engineered air purifier and paper media filter supplied by Dectron’s Circul-Aire Division, Montreal, PQ, Canada. The factory-installed purification module is V shaped to allow air to pass easily through its three filtering stages:

1. A 2-inch-thick, paper-type, 30% prefilter;

2. Chemical media consisting of specialized pellets; and

3. A 4-inch-thick, paper-type, 65% paper filter.

“I chose this type of filtration over ionization or other electronic types because this is tried and true, simpler, and requires lower maintenance,” explained Fitzpatrick.

The HVAC package brings in 100% outside air and purifies it before introducing it to the sample preparation area. A glass window separates the prep room from the evaluation area, which is a purified air environment where sensory experts from Givaudan’s beverage and health product clients taste samples in a pure air environment.

“It’s of the ultimate importance that these special sensory evaluators not be distracted either by background odors, sounds, or even visual disturbances when they’re smelling flavors,” said a Givaudan spokesperson.


According to the client’s wishes and as an added precaution for guaranteed odor-free air, the space has no return air and is 100% exhausted. Fitzpatrick specified the unit to provide 1,000 CFM and designed the room to exhaust approximately 980 CFM.

Fras-Air Contracting Inc., a 27-year-old Manville, NJ-based mechanical contractor, installed the equipment and balanced the job for positive pressure.

Beside dehumidification and air purification, the packaged unit also heats and cools the spaces. Perimeter hydronic baseboard by Sterling Heating Equipment, Westfield, MA, supplements the packaged unit by heating the walls when outside temperatures drop below 40 degrees F. Electric resistance duct heaters by Warren Technology, Hialeah, FL, also provide supplemental heating.

Separate Electro-VAP electronic steam-generated in-duct humidifiers by Walton Inc., Passaic, NJ, supply moisture to the space when winter RH levels drop. “Of course, odor and particle elimination is vital to the laboratory environment, but equally important is a comfortable relative humidity so that the sensory evaluators’ sinuses aren’t adversely affected,” added Fitzpatrick.

All supplementary equipment is monitored and controlled by the building’s automated building equipment; however, the Dectron equipment is controlled by a thermostat in the Quality Services Laboratory.

Fitzpatrick, who specializes in pharmaceutical HVAC application design as a former director of engineering for Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, was careful to design this area with positive pressure that pushes air out into noncritical areas such as the employee break room, offices, and a sealed storage section where Givaudan’s 70,000 flavor samples are stored to prevent the infiltration into other areas.

Those areas have two Dectron RK-030 makeup air dehumidifiers and supply ductwork that are totally separated from the laboratory system.

Consumers may not realize it when they pop open a new flavor of soft drink, but there’s a good chance the flavor was approved in the purified air environment of Givaudan’s Quality Services Laboratory.

Publication date: 08/05/2002