Movers & Shakers – September 2021: Freudenberg Filtration to grow North American portfolio with acquisition of Protect Plus Air Holding

International Filtration News Movers & Shakers
IFN covers the latest news and information coming out of the global filtration industry. Photo: iStock/metamorworks

In the dynamic and global filtration industry, news and information is breaking on a daily basis. International Filtration News is tracking stories relevant to our industry from air and gas filtration to liquid filtration and the various end-uses for filtration technology. Here we will post news stories relevant to filtration and its downstream applications on an ongoing basis. Please check back for regular updates. If you have news that you feel should be added to this summary report, please email it to Matt Migliore at

Most recent update: September 28, 2021

Grundfos enters agreement to acquire water treatment company MECO

Grundfos, a global provider of advanced pump solutions and water technologies, has entered into an agreement to acquire Mechanical Equipment Company, Inc. (MECO), a global supplier of industrial water treatment solutions with manufacturing and sales offices in the United States as well as international offices in Singapore and Ireland. The company has a strong presence in water treatment, and a global position in water purification for the pharmaceutical market, owing to its proprietary vapor compression technology.

The acquisition, which is pending regulatory approvals, is aimed at further expanding Grundfos’s water treatment capabilities and strengthening Grundfos’s position as a global provider of water treatment solutions that address the world’s water and climate challenges. When completed, it will represent the second such transaction since November 2020, when Grundfos acquired EUROWATER, a supplier of decentralized water treatment equipment and solutions in Europe.

“We see Grundfos and MECO as a perfect fit and we are thrilled with the prospect of acquiring MECO. MECO is a highly respected water treatment company with a formidable, focused skillset and portfolio of water treatment solutions. This acquisition is about much more than superior technology. Grundfos and MECO are founded on similar values, and we share a deep commitment to innovation and sustainability as well as a genuine care for our customers and employees. Together, we will leverage our combined experience and skills to create even better solutions for our customers,” said Ulrik Gernow, group executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Grundfos.

The transaction is expected to close during fourth quarter 2021.


Test results show ZENGuard coated facemasks provide 99.99% bacteria and virus filtration efficiency

Zen Graphene Solutions Ltd., a Canadian nanotechnology company focused on healthcare solutions, announced test results for bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) and viral filtration efficiency (VFE) of its ZENGuard-enhanced surgical masks. The ZENGuard coated masks removed 98.9% more bacteria and 97.8% more virus particles compared to a typical ASTM level 3, 3-ply uncoated mask. With BFE and VFE levels over 99.99%.

  • Testing was completed by GAP EnviroMicrobial Services Ltd., an ISO/IEC 17025:2005 compliant and Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) certified testing facility
  • A ZENGuard-enhanced mask and a leading ASTM level 3, 3-ply mask were exposed to S. aureus for BFE testing and MS2 Bacteriophage for VFE testing
  • ZENGuard-enhanced mask removed 98.9% more bacteria and 97.8% more viruses in a head-to-head comparison with a leading ASTM level 3 mask


Freudenberg Filtration to grow North American portfolio with acquisition of Protect Plus Air Holding

Freudenberg’s Filtration Technologies business is acquiring Protect Plus Air Holding, Inc. from its current owner, the Indianapolis-based private equity firm HKW. Based in Hickory, North Carolina, Protect Plus Air is a producer air filters that are mainly sold through retailers for residential buildings. The company has 940 employees and generated $118 million in revenue in 2020. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“With the acquisition of Protect Plus Air, we are expanding our portfolio of filtration solutions in the important North American market by adding the attractive, fast-growing field of residential building ventilation,” said Dr. Mohsen Sohi, CEO of the Freudenberg Group. “Protect Plus Air is expanding and strengthening our already existing filtration portfolio for mobility and industrial applications worldwide.”

The U.S. Census Bureau puts the real estate market in the U.S. at about 139 million residential units in 2019. About 84% of them already are equipped with air-conditioning or ventilation systems. They rely on air filters that improve performance and increase the operating life of the equipment, and above all protect people from airborne particles. The market has been on the rise for several years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, American consumers have become more aware of air hygiene, which is leading to increased demand, especially for filters in higher performance categories, all of which are key drivers for the acquisition.


Clear Edge Filtration announces expansion of its Minnesota facility

Clear Edge Filtration is expanding its existing Minnesota plant to accommodate growth and future market development plans. The plant will also facilitate technical support, patent of products and new product development.

The expansion will add fabrication of liquid filtration media and belting products to its capabilities, using infrastructure and equipment that meets safety and quality standards.

“At Clear Edge we are on a mission to make the world safer, healthier & more productive,” said general manager, Nikhil Tamhane. Our mission closely aligns with that of our customers and we are proud that many of our customers rely on our products, solutions & expertise to efficiently run their operations. The strategic integration of our weaving and fabricating capabilities allows us to harness the power of world class weaving, married with exceptional fabrication, all positioned under one roof to better service our customers. Ultimately, with continued customer collaboration we are able to take more of our mission to more places”

As part of this initiative, Clear Edge’s Tulsa, Oklahoma site will transition to other existing facilities.


Pentair to acquire Pleatco, expanding presence in pool & spa and industrial filtration markets

Pentair plc, a provider of water treatment and sustainability solutions, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pleatco, a manufacturer of water filtration and clean air technologies for pool, spa and industrial air customers. Pleatco is a current portfolio company of Align Capital Partners, a private equity firm with investment teams in Dallas, Texas and Cleveland, Ohio.

The planned acquisition of Pleatco provides Pentair an expanded range of replacement filter products to be sold through Pentair’s existing Pool and Spa distribution channels, as well as through Pleatco’s distribution channels.

“We are excited to expand our presence in the aftermarket filtration space with an enhanced product offering that advances our objective to offer an effortless pool experience for consumers,” said John Stauch, Pentair’s president and CEO.

The planned acquisition also expands Pentair’s Industrial Filtration portfolio, with complementary air filtration products to serve the needs of its industrial customers.

Total consideration for the transaction is approximately $255 million in cash, subject to customary adjustments. Pentair expects Pleatco to generate approximately $95 million of annual revenue in 2021. The transaction is expected to be accretive in its first full year.


US FDA updates enforcement policy for facemasks, respirators and related PPE to ensure availability

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a revised guidance, Enforcement Policy for Face Masks, Barrier Face Coverings, Face Shields, Surgical Masks, and Respirators During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency (Revised), to expand the availability of face masks, barrier face coverings and face shields for the general public, including health care personnel, as well as surgical masks and particulate filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) (including N95 respirators) for health care personnel for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This policy is intended to remain in effect only for the duration of the public health emergency related to COVID-19 declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on January 31, 2020, effective January 27, 2020, including any renewals made by the HHS Secretary in accordance with section 319(a)(2) of the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) (42 U.S.C. 247d(a)(2)).

Given this public health emergency, and as discussed in the Notice in the Federal Register of March 25, 2020, titled “Process for Making Available Guidance Documents Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019,” available at, this guidance is being implemented without prior public comment because FDA has determined that prior public participation for this guidance is not feasible or appropriate (see section 701(h)(1)(C) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 371(h)(1)(C)) and 21 CFR 10.115(g)(2)). This guidance document is being implemented immediately, but it remains subject to comment in accordance with the Agency’s good guidance practices.

Read the full guidance:


NX Filtration starts pilot with IWE for water reuse from paper mills

NX Filtration, a global provider of direct nanofiltration technology for pure and affordable water, has started a pilot project with Industriewater Eerbeek (IWE), a subsidiary of three Dutch paper mills focusing on wastewater treatment. The objective of the pilot is to enable the reuse of wastewater, reducing the extraction of groundwater and the overall water footprint of the paper mills.

IWE has been purifying surplus process water from three paper mills (Folding Boxboard Eerbeek BV, DS Smith Paper De Hoop Mill and Neenah Coldenhove BV) in Eerbeek, the Netherlands, since 1960. With a strong focus on achieving a circular process, IWE seeks to use NX Filtration’s direct nanofiltration membranes for upgrading the wastewater stream to enable reuse as process water at the paper mills.


Research finds PFAS – the ‘forever chemical’ – is a prevalent indoor air contaminant

The air we breathe in our homes, schools, and workplaces can be polluted with harmful PFAS chemicals, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. A new measurement technique developed by the research team detected PFAS chemicals in the air of kindergarten classrooms, university offices and laboratories, and a home—some with levels as high as those measured at an outdoor clothing company and carpet stores selling PFAS-treated products. The results suggest indoor air is an underestimated and potentially important source of exposure to PFAS, particularly for children.

“Food and water are known to be major sources of PFAS exposure,” said Rainer Lohmann, senior author of the study and professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. “Our study shows that indoor air, including dust, is another source of exposure to potentially harmful forever chemicals. In fact, for children in homes or schools with old PFAS-treated carpets, inhalation may be even more important than dust as an exposure pathway to volatile PFAS that eventually could biotransform to more persistent and harmful PFAS.”

By affixing polyethylene sheet samplers to ceilings, the scientists measured volatile PFAS chemicals in the air of nine carpeted kindergarten classrooms, one home, and the storage room of an outdoor clothing store in California; as well as two laboratories, five offices, one classroom, one storage room, and one elevator at the University of Rhode Island; and two carpet stores, also in Rhode Island. PFAS were detected in the air of nearly every location.

Read the full story:

Grundfos announces strongest half-year results in company history

Grundfos, a global provider of fluid handling and water treatment systems, reported the highest earnings in company history and highest sales growth rate for more than a decade in their 2021 half-year results.

  • Sales growth of 18.4%
  • Net turnover of DKK 14.1bn
  • Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of DKK 2,017m, an increase of 89% compared to 2020

Grundfos doubled its EBIT compared to the first half of 2020 to DKK 2,017m and delivered record-high profitability and cash flow in its 2021 half-year report. Sales have increased by 18.4% compared to 2020 and 7.1% compared to 2019 (pre-COVID-19 baseline).

“This is an outstanding result. Grundfos is financially stronger than ever which gives us the best possible platform for executing on our ambitious strategy and fulfill our purpose of contributing to solving the world’s water and climate challenges. I am proud of our performance, and the commitment of our employees. I cannot thank them enough,” says Poul Due Jensen, Group President & CEO of Grundfos.

Grundfos also reported its global supply chain has been able to maintain full production and ensure deliveries to customers despite the global challenges on material shortages and freight capacity following the pandemic.


SKF acquires lubrication filtration business Efolex AB

SKF has completed the acquisition of Gothenburg-based lubrication filtration business Efolex AB. Efolex, with approximately 10 employees, manufactures the Europafilter-branded industrial lubrication and oil filtration systems.

“In addition to being an interesting stand-alone product, the Europafilter technology is a good strategic fit with SKF RecondOil’s Double Separation Technology offer and will widen our overall lubrication management capabilities,” said Thomas Fröst, president, Industrial Technologies.


New research shows the interaction of water aerosol with nanofiber mesh facemask material

Facemasks made with nanofibers have drawn increasingly more attention because of their higher filtration efficiency, better comfort, and lower pressure drop. However, the interactions and consequences of the nanofibers and microwater droplets remain unclear.

New research published in the journal Physics of Fluids shows the evolution of fibers made of polymers with different contact angles, diameters, and mesh sizes under water aerosol exposure is systematically visualized. The images show that capillarity is very strong compared with the elasticity of the nanofiber. The nanofibers coalesce irreversibly during the droplet capture stage as well as the subsequent liquid evaporation stage. The fiber coalescence significantly reduces the effective fiber length for capturing aerosols. The nanofiber mesh that undergoes multiple droplet capture/evaporation cycles exhibits a fiber coalescing fraction of 40%–58%. The hydrophobic and orthogonally woven fibers can reduce the capillary forces and decrease the fiber coalescing fraction.

Three typical configurations of fiber arrangements and their response to the aerosol. (a) Crossed fibers (PVA). (b) Parallel or nearly parallel fibers (PVA). (c) Unparallel and untouched fibers (PVDF). All three configurations undergo two main stages: aerosol capture and liquid evaporation. Scale bar: 10 μm. Image courtesy of Physics of Fluids.

This finding is expected to assist the proper design, fabrication, and use of face masks with nanofibers. It also provides direct visual evidence on the necessity to replace face masks frequently, especially in cold environments.

Read the full story:

IDA World Congress postponed to Oct. 2022 to align with Australia’s COVID-19 reopening plan

After close consultation with the Australian government and based on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination and border reopening four-stage plan, the 2022 IDA World Congress, scheduled for May 29-June 2, 2022, has been postponed to October 9-13, 2022, to ensure an in-person event.

Accordingly, the International Desalination Association has extended the abstract submission deadline to February 15, 2022. The congress remains in Sydney, Australia, at the International Convention Center (ICC Sydney). “We can’t wait to welcome the world’s leading minds on water desalination and reuse to Sydney next year, as borders reopen, and our international visitors once again return. Our water community is certainly looking forward to networking and collaborating on new water solutions face to face with their global peers”, said BESydney CEO, Lyn Lewis-Smith.

The congress features a technical program covering all aspects of desalination and water reuse solutions to ensure water sustainability. With over 300 papers among 10 technical topics and multiple sub-topics, the technical program will explore a broad range of desalination and water reuse technologies, practices, and experiences worldwide. The program’s knowledge-sharing aspect recognizes that resources and requirements vary based on need, location, climate conditions, and natural resources. The Innovation Forum, a new feature of the congress, is a pitch-based competition limited to eight teams with a monetary award.

The IDA World Congress is supported by the University of Technology Sydney – Centre for Technology in Water and Wastewater, Australian Water Association, the Government of New South Wales, Sydney Water, Sydney Desalination Plant, UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology at the University of New South Wales, and the Water Services Association of Australia. The 2022 IDA World Congress and Exhibition will provide knowledge-sharing and interaction for participants on technical and business topics related to the use of desalination and water reuse solutions to ensure a secure water future.


New study confirms air purifiers improve air quality by +60% indoors

The quality study was conducted in Spectrum Engineering offices, both before and after the Camfil City M air purifier had been running for 60 minutes. The experiments found the City M air purifier was able to improve air quality by 63% for even the smallest airborne contaminants. Meanwhile the City M was also able to reduce aerosol concentrations by 98.2% after only a 20 minute period.

A new study by Camfil Ireland in conjunction with Spectrum Engineering has found Camfil’s City M air purifiers can improve air quality and reduce aerosol concentrations indoors by more than 60%.

The research also found that the City M air purifier removed volatile organic compounds (emitted as gases from solids or liquids) from the enclosed area. The results of these experiments show that Camfil’s City M air purifier has the power to greatly reduce the presence of airborne particles that in some cases can prove life threatening.

Research by The European Environment Agency has shown air pollution is the single greatest environmental health risk in Europe. According to Camfil, High Efficiency Particulate Air filtration (HEPA) technologies are capable of greatly reducing the circulation of airborne particulate matter by over 99 percent.  

“With thousands of students heading back to school this week and many back into the office we have an opportunity to provide clean and safe indoor air for all,” said Paul Flanagan, managing director of Camfil Ireland. “We have been actively committed to educating the public about the importance of clean air and to providing top quality solutions to protect people, processes and the environment for decades. The past year and a half has made our mission and purpose more important than ever before, as the idea of clean air has become a top priority for people. We are determined to show people that installing HEPA filters onto buildings can and will decrease the risk of inhaling harmful pollutants. This study by Camfil and Spectrum Engineering is proof of that success.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in requirements for air quality improvements from our clients across the country,” said Brian O’Connell, managing director of Spectrum Engineering. “These tests validate the use of air cleaners to help improve air quality in buildings and help protect people from airborne contaminants.”


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