January/February | Volume 32, No. 1

Environment Effort Boosts Filtration and Separation Industry
By Jason Chen, China Correspondent

More than 300 exhibitors participated at Filtration & Separation Asia 2012, where experts predicted a strong growth for filtration in the coming years.

At the 4th Filtration & Separation Asia and the 7th China International Filtration & Separation Exhibition & Conference (FSA + CIFS 2012) held November 14 -16, 2012, experts and executives from all around the world discussed the market and technology trends of the Chinese, Asian and global filtration and separation industry. The participants concluded that a strong market growth would continue in the next few years, which will continue to provide ongoing momentum to innovation.

Exhibitors and Experts
The event was sponsored by the China Technology Market Association (CTMA) and the China Filtration Society (CFS), and was supported by International Filtration News, the American Filtration & Separations Society (AFS), the Asia Nonwoven Fabrics Association (ANFA), and the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDANA). The organizers included CNTA Science & Technology Co Ltd (CNTA), UBM Asia Trade Fairs Pte Ltd (UBM), and Shanghai Technology Convention & Exhibition Co­ Ltd.

Around 300 exhibitors from Mainland China, France, Austria, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Belgium, Finland and the United States attended the FSA + CIFS 2013 at INTEX Shanghai, covering exhibition halls of 6,000 square meters. They included filtration materials manufacturers, filtration and separation equipment producers, research and development institutes, associations, and industrial publications.

Some of the exhibitors said that the growing market demand was the deciding factor in participating at this biannual event. “We expect a growth of sales this and next year. So we are here to look for more business opportunities,” said Mr. Zhou Shen, manager of a Shanghai-based filtration equipment company.

One the other hand, experts discussed recent advances in technologies and market trends of the filtration and separation industry in the forums of the FSA + CIFS 2012.

Environmental Protection Efforts
Some of these forums focused on the market opportunities that will be brought by the Chinese government’s environmental protection efforts.

One of these opportunities is created by the Chinese government’s plan to improve the nation’s sewage treatment and recycling system. “This effort will provide a strong momentum to the Chinese filtration and separation industry in the next three years or more,” said Mr. Deng Zhiguang, deputy president of the China Central and Southern China Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institutes. He described the Chinese government’s policies and targets for sewage treatment and recycling by 2015, and the consequent market demands and related opportunities. According to the targets, China’s sewage water treatment will increase from 124.8 million cubic meters to 208.1 million cubic meters per day from 2010 to 2015, and sewage sludge treatment will increase 5.18 million cubic meters per day in the same period. In addition, recycling water will triple to reach 38.85 million cubic meters per day from 2010 to 2015.

Another opportunity is China’s efforts to reduce air pollution. The Chinese central government has set a plan to reduce the Chinese industries’ air emissions per metric ton of production by 10% to 29% between 2010 and 2015. This plan will strongly boost the consumption of filtration fabric. According to Mr. Sun Jinliang, member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), the Chinese industries emit a total of about eight million metric tons of fine particles (PM2.5) a year, which accounts for 80% of China’s total air pollution. The fine particles emission is hard to be eliminated through traditional ways. The main solution is filter bags made by filtration fabric.

“Last year (2011), China produced about 120 million square meters of filtration fabric, with a total value of 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion). In 2012, the market in value terms will grow by 25% and reach 25 billion yuan ($4.0 billion),” said Mr. Jiang Shicheng, vice president of the China Chemical Fiber Association (CCFA).

A rosy outlook for the filtration industry in the coming years was a deciding factor for many of the exhibitors at the event.

But Mr. Jiang said that the Chinese filtration fabric manufacturers still had many problems. “Among the filtration fabric made in 2012, about 70 million square meters were common filtration fabric with poor heat- and corrosion-resistance, and only 50 million were high-quality products. On the other hand, among China’s more than 200 filtration fabric production lines, only 15 lines are advanced lines introduced from other countries, and more than 100 lines are low-quality ones. Overcapacity of low-quality products has appeared in the industry and restructuring will be required,” explained Mr. Jiang.

Other experts said that the relatively high cost would be another factor that retards the growth of filter bags and filtration fabric. For example, the investment on the filter bags for a chimney in a steel plant could cost up to a half million yuan ($81,000) and the lifespan of the filter bags is only about two years, according to Mr. Huang Ning, engineer of the environmental department of China’s Ji Nan Steel and Iron Plant. “The cost is too high and we are almost unable to afford it. Therefore, cost reduction and lifespan increase of the filtration products will be crucial to our environmental protection efforts,” said Mr. Huang.

To reduce the environmental protection costs of the Chinese companies, the government has started to subsidize the filtration fabric producers. For example, the government of China’s Funing County subsidizes 10% to 17% of the prices of new equipment bought by local filtration fabric manufacturers, which will reduce their cost of manufacturing advanced filtration fabric. Since 2011, the Funing government has given about $700,000 to 146 local filtration fabric manufacturers. “Supported by the government, the Chinese filtration fabric industry will have an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of no less than 15% in the next five years,” said Mr. Li Lingshen, president of the China Nonwoven & Industrial Textiles Association (CNITA).

Materials, Application, Methods
In some other forums, experts discussed the applications of filtration and separation technologies for various industries. For example, Mr. Liang Jinlong, researcher of China’s Nanchang Filter Machinery Research Institute, described in a forum the recent development of uranium separation and concentration technology; Mr. Chen Gangjin, researcher of the Laboratory of Electrets and Application at China’s Hangzhou Dianzi University, provided his recent findings of melt-blown polypropylene electrets web in medical applications.

New materials for filtration and separation were discussed at the FSA + CIFS 2013 too. For example, Ms. Bian Sisi, researcher of the Northeastern University of China, described her recent experimental research on degradation of aramid filter media.

Some experts presented their recent research on new manufacturing methods for filtration materials. For example, Mr. Lu Jiankang, researcher of the Qidong Kanghui Coating & Lamination Co Ltd, described their recent research and development (R&D) of the manufacturing technologies and equipment for multi-layer filtration materials.