Pickle Research Center – MER Clean Room

Where to Build a Clean Room?

Researchers at the University of Texas J.J. Pickle Research Center needed more clean room space in the Microelectronics Research building, but had occupied all of the available clean space in the building. The College of Engineering needed to locate the new 4,000 square foot clean room adjacent to existing clean rooms where there were “dirty” laboratories.

There was very little ceiling space and large amounts of existing piping, ductwork, and conduit already occupying that tight area. The ceiling space had also collected quite a bit of dust, dirt, and debris over the 23 years of the building’s life.

That’s One Clean Pickle!

There may have been very little room for the clean room systems, but EEA devised a plan to fit the new equipment, duct, and piping in with the existing systems and construct a Class 100 space where once before there were “dirty” laboratories. There was no room to build a cap to separate the existing and new systems from the clean room return air plenum and the underside of the floor above was sprayed with fire-proofing insulation.

We successfully reclassified the fire protection ratings, removed the fire-proofing, and cleaned and encapsulated the existing walls, piping, and conduit with several coats of epoxy paint.

The existing ducted HEPA filtration system was not going to have room to serve the new clean rooms, so we used fan-powered HEPA filter units for air circulation and cleaning, individual fan coil units for air conditioning, and extended the existing process utilities and make-up air duct to serve the new space.

Although many outsiders doubted the ability to renovate the tight, dirty space to a certifiably clean space, the certification results far exceeded the Class 100 requirement.


The project won an Excellence in Construction Award from the Associated Builders and Constructors Central Texas Chapter in the Best Renovation Less than $4 Million category for DPR Construction, the general contractor.