High Level Presentations at World Filtration Congress, Austria

By Geoff Fisher, European Editor

Messe Congress Graz, location of the 11th World Filtration Congress
& Exhibition (WFC11) held in April.

The 11th World Filtration Congress & Exhibition (WFC11), held in the delightful city of Graz, Austria, from April 16-20, 2012, brought together researchers and developers with manufacturers and users of separation equipment with the aim of speeding up the process of finding improved solutions for current and future separation problems.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, European Capital of Culture 2003 and the second largest city in Austria with 250,000 inhabitants, Graz is surrounded by mountains with the river Mur running through the heart of the city. The Mediterranean atmosphere of the picturesque old town, with its Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque styles, provides a striking contrast to some outstanding ultra-modern architecture.

Wilhelm Höflinger

Mechanical particle separation processes play an indispensable role in nearly all aspects of activities to solve important problems, such as energy supply, food, water, health and the environment, noted Congress Chairman Professor Wilhelm Höflinger of Vienna University of Technology in his opening remarks.

First organized in Paris, France, in 1974, and held every four years since, WFC11 was hosted by the Austrian Chemical Society (GÖCH) and attracted some 740 delegates, according to Prof. Höflinger.

The five-day event featured approximately 320 technical papers from 45 countries, of which 95 were poster presentations. The remainder was split into three main topics - solid/liquid separation; aerosol filtration, air filtration and gas filtration; and membrane processes - with lectures held in seven rooms simultaneously. Other key topics included filter media; testing, instrumentation and control; and simulation and modeling. Also featured were four keynote lectures and a series of short courses presented by leading experts in the filtration field.


In the plenary lecture, Dr. Harald Anlauf of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, discussed the technical development of separation by mutation and selection. Using several examples, Anlauf demonstrated that technical progress in the field of separation technology could be compared in many ways with evolutionary development in nature. Mutation and selection are mechanisms that can be found not only in biology, but also in a technological context, he said.

For instance, cross-flow membrane filtration and strainers for pre-separation of oversize particles are used in artificial kidneys for haemodialysis, which is an analogue of the baleen of a whale to filter krill from seawater.

Keynote lectures
Among the keynote lectures, Gerhard Kasper, also of KIT, noted that bag house filters have traditionally been among the most effective gas cleaning methods available with respect to particulate emission levels, as well as for submicron dust. Key issues are the cleanability and energy efficiency of such devices. Emission specifications found in requests for proposals (RFPs) have become increasingly tighter, however, with typical levels approaching 1 mg/m3.

Moreover, public environmental concerns about ambient "fine dust" and the advent of particle size specific emission criteria, such as PM10 or PM2.5, have added further pressure to investigate emission mechanisms and behavior of cleanable filters.

Kasper described an analysis of emission data for various filter-operating scenarios, including a comparison of agglomerating and non-agglomerating dust, operation at different raw gas concentrations, different ageing sequences and the impact of leaks.

Ahlstrom has developed advanced filter media
for a variety of industries and applications.

His discussion revolved around the relationship between dust concentration and the total amount of dust (per unit filter area) emitted during a cycle, and the consequences of these findings for minimizing dust emissions in the context of industrial operating environments.

Meanwhile, Kuo-Lun Tung of Chung Yuan University, Taiwan, offered a new geomimetic approach to the design of novel inorganic membranes. (Geomimicry seeks to replicate known geophysical forces.) He said a novel technique that assists the atmospheric plasma spray (APS) coating method to fabricate a macroporous Al2O3 membrane, with pore sizes ranging from around 0.2-0.3 µm, has been developed at the University's R&D Center for Membrane Technology.

SMART approach
Dr. Karsten Keller of Solae/DuPont, USA, introduced the SMART approach for separation challenges for biotechnology. This systematic methodology involves:

  • Selective separation technology
  • Managing the product properties
  • Advanced mechanical separation technology
  • Reorganizing the separation forces
  • Treatment with enzymes

Examples of SMART include membrane technology, magnetic separation, enzyme treatment and additional approaches. Some of these are in the early research stage, while others are close to implementation, said Dr. Keller.

Andreas Wiegmann of the Fraunhofer Institut für Techno- und Wirtschaftsmathematik, Germany, described modeling and simulation of filtration processes from a practitioner's overview.

He showed how detailed three-dimensional images and models of filter media, filtration process models, computational fluid dynamics and statistics could provide valuable guidelines for filtration from the practical viewpoint and deep new insights from the academic perspective.

Lenzing Technik highlighted the RWF automatic backwash filter that can replace one-way filters.

A highlight of WFC11 was an extensive exhibition area where approximately 100 international suppliers of filtration and separation equipment, engineering companies, manufacturers of related measurement instruments and test laboratories featured the latest innovations and technology. Most of the exhibitors said they were more than satisfied with the amount of visitor traffic and contacts made with the international filtration industry.

Blue energy
Fujifilm Manufacturing Europe highlighted its membranes for reverse electro-dialysis (RED) technology for the generation of "blue energy" using adjacent fresh and salt water.

Fujifilm ion exchange membranes will be used in a 50 kW pilot plant installation to be built this year on the Afsluitdijk, a major causeway in the Netherlands. This is the basis of a four-year project designed to make the sustainable generation of energy economically and technically feasible, said Meindert Slagt, business development manager.

Meanwhile, Ahlstrom Filtration launched the XAIR range of automotive and heavy-duty air filter media, which is said to provide exceptional efficiency in soot filtration and dust holding capacity compared with standard products.

Lenzing Technik of Austria highlighted the RWF automatic backwash filter that can replace one-way filters. This technology allows for very fine filtration down to 1 µm with a large amount of solid content and high throughput.

Irema-Filter of Germany presented its broad product range of filtration media for industrial and automotive applications, and now also for liquid filtration applications, according to Anja-Michen Müller, sales and marketing manager. New innovative media are available for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), cabin air, engine air, oil filtration, hydraulic applications and fuel filtration.

Filter media from Irema-Filter are widely used in HVAC applications.

Sandler of Germany also featured its wide range of carded and meltblown nonwovens, as well as multilayer composites, for use as filter media for such applications as dust filtration, HVAC, air and cabin filtration, vacuum cleaner bags, extractor hoods, climate control filters in electric appliances and filter mats for spray painting facilities or liquid filtration.

UK-based Eurocarb Products is the European operations center for Sri Lanka-headquartered Haycarb, a leading global manufacturer of coconut shell activated carbon. Eurocarb provides solutions for the removal of gas and vapor contaminants from air; the company's activated carbons are also used in critical water filtration applications. It is currently investigating the potential applications in– the biogas industry, revealed Market Development Manager K.C. Perera.


The 12th World Filtration Congress & Exhibition (WFC12) will be held in Taipei, Taiwan, in spring 2016.