By Adrian Wilson, International Correspondent
As a sure sign that it continues to build momentum, this year’s Filtech exhibition – which takes place in Cologne, Germany, from March 13-15 – has already attracted no less than 140 new exhibitor companies, including some of the industry’s very major players for the first time.
Among them is the world leader in automotive filtration, Mann+Hummel, which with annual sales of around €3.5 billion now employs over 20,600 people at 80 locations in 28 countries, and continues to lead the field in innovation.
In December 2017 the family-owned company, which is headquartered in Ludwigsburg, Germany, announced a new particulate filter for the world’s first neutral emissions vehicles.
The special “StreetScooter” delivery vehicles are currently being trialed in selected German cities by Deutsche Post DHL Group, the country’s postal service.
Already, over 5,000 standard StreetScooters are in use by Deutsche Post DHL, preventing considerable quantities of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, as well as noise from entering the environment.
These electric vehicles, however, are not totally clean, since they still release particulates into the atmosphere as a result of abrasion from their tires and brakes.
Braking in city traffic creates significantly more dust than exhaust emissions, the company points out – every braking action creates dust through friction on the disc and pads. This mainly comprises particulates of which more than 90% are ultra-fine and as a consequence harmful to both health and the environment.
New filter class
Now, however, Mann+Hummel has introduced its fine dust particulate filter – representing an entirely new use for nonwoven filter media and a new filter class in the automotive industry. It can be adapted to existing installation space in the area of the brake disc and is suitable for use with all types of drive, ranging from electric vehicles to hybrids and to conventional petrol and diesel cars.
The robust housing of the filter is fitted close to the brake caliper, which allows it to prevent emissions directly at the source of fine dust to the ambient air, in particular in city traffic, which is characterized by frequent braking processes. The synthetic nonwoven filter media is resistant to temperature and corrosion and the company is also working on hardier versions made from both glass fibers and stainless steel fibers.
The retention of the fine dust directly at the place where it is created prevents the soiling of alloy rims and to a large extent the tedious removal of entrenched brake dust – something which will be appreciated by car owners.
The filter modules have initially been fitted to five StreetScooter test vehicles for Deutsche Post DHL and are now in service in five German city centers. They are completely neutral of emissions in their overall balance during driving operations in terms of:
- No carbon dioxide (CO2)
- No nitrogen oxide (NOx)
- No noise
- No particulates
The fine dust particulate filters on these StreetScooters are equipped with active filter systems. Blowers are fitted behind the filters, which direct ambient air to them. As a result, even when the vehicle is at a standstill it is still able to function.
The installation position of the filter on the underbody at the height of the rear axle is practical for two reasons – it doesn’t use up any valuable loading space and is at precisely the location where the highest concentration of particulates are to be found near to the vehicle. All particulate filters are equipped with sensors, which allow the online monitoring of the systems in respect of performance, the amount of cleaned air, the concentration of particulates and weather data. The data is then sent to the cloud to be visualized via a web interface and evaluated by filtration experts.
The successful conclusion of the testing could lead to the series implementation of the particulate filter on StreetScooter.
“More and more people at our locations ranging from Ludwigsburg to Bangalore and Shanghai are suffering from the consequences of air pollution and who else apart from a filtration expert such as us is going to find a solution?” said Mann+Hummel CEO Alfred Weber.
“The coming together of the biggest logistics provider, the biggest producer of electric commercial vehicles in Germany and the leading global filtration expert has made driving and delivery operations possible in city centers, which is neutral in terms of emissions.”
“We are pleased to participate in this field trial and to pioneer what will become a major trend,” added Achim Kampker, CEO of StreetScooter.
Pall Corporation will also be present at Filtech for the first time in 2018. With annual sales of $2.8 billion, this company was the subject of the filtration industry’s largest to-date takeover when it was acquired by global science and technology organization Danaher in August 2015 for $13.8 billion.
Danaher is clearly excited about the potential of Pall’s biopharmaceuticals business, which provides solutions for biotech and biologics (vaccines and plasma), as well as for the processing of conventional pharmaceuticals.
Pall’s technologies have already played a key role in the development and manufacture of many life-saving drugs on the market today, ranging from cancer-curing monoclonal antibodies to Ebola vaccines.
There is a large and growing pipeline of biologic molecules – around 2,500 are in the extremely long approval pipeline and this is growing at a rate of 15 per year, the company reports.
Nine of the 12 biologics to have received US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval in 2016 specified Pall products in their processes and the company’s filtration, depth filtration, ultra/microfiltration and chromatography technologies are present in every stage of bioproduction, beginning with filtration of the culture media, air and venting, cell separation and clarification through to chromatography, followed by virus and DNA removal and a final filtration stage.
The adoption of single-use technologies is still in the early stages of adoption, with continuous bioprocessing still to be established, but Pall is at an advanced stage in its development.
Pall’s portfolio of continuous processing technologies are based around acoustic wave separation, multi-column chromatography and single-pass tangential flow filtration (TFF) and can be used for the purification of specific solute molecules in a variety of applications.
Danaher sees a new market opportunity of over $4 billion for Pall Biopharmaceuticals to address with continuous processing solutions.
Another first-time Filtech exhibitor is Porvair, which has two operating divisions – Metals Filtration and Microfiltration – with operations in the UK, USA, Germany and China.
Porvair’s focus is on specialist filtration markets, which have long term growth potential, of which aviation, energy and industrial processing, laboratory supplies and molten metals are the most important.
The company’s sales in its financial year to March 2017 were a record UK£109.4 million ($146 million) and during 2017 it has secured a major contract in a field perhaps not immediately associated with the filtration business, but of major environmental significance – cleaning up key legacy nuclear waste sites across the USA.
Porvair is deploying its advanced filtration technology across the affected sites to deal with hazardous high- and low-level contamination left over from national defense plutonium and uranium production efforts during World War II and the Cold War era.
Among the tools being employed are newly-developed radial flow HEPA-grade air filters to be used for off-gas and plant-air treatment, serving as a final barrier between radioactive contamination and the public.
At other sites, the filtration specialist will be deploying diffuser media and in-situ cleanable process filters manufactured from high-nickel alloys for use in the high-temperature and corrosive environments present within the conversion process vessels.
In addition, Porvair is supplying filters that will be deployed on nitrate-salt waste containers currently stored at Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) in New Mexico. These filters will play a critical role in the processing of specific wastes at LANL by providing a controlled release of pressure with HEPA-level protection in the event of chemical reactions within the waste containers.
“The legacy of environmental waste left behind at these sites represents a huge challenge and a significant undertaking for all involved, said Trevor Waghorn, Porvair’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Efforts to clean up the contamination have already taken decades and billions of dollars in expenditure. However, we believe that our technology and manufacturing capability in the US can help to meet the challenge head on, ensuring effective treatment and immobilization.
“Across the nuclear industry, Porvair has a strong track record of supplying true HEPA grade gas filtration as well as fulfilling many critical needs to the nuclear industry to meet the challenges of arduous conditions, including high temperature operation, chemically corrosive flows and high radioactivity situations, where conventional filters would not survive.
“Already in use in both fuel production and waste treatment facilities, our metal HEPA filters can be used in a wide range of varied applications. These include waste treatment and storage, post-Fukushima containment venting packages and ventilation systems.”
As a testament to the vitality of the filtration sector, companies like Mann+Hummel, Pall and Porvair continue to open up new markets for their technologies and expertise. It will be evident at Filtech 2018 that they are far from alone.