Tuesday, 29 March 2011

What a week that was at Filtech 2011 !

Well, back in the office after the Filtech 2011 show last week in the lovely city of Wiesbaden.

It was an excellent three days with what has been reported as an increase in visitors again since the last show, coming from all over the world.  It's a long time since I've been stood on a stand and seen sales people operating virtually non-stop, so I'm sure that my partners at Palas will be very satisfied with the show outcomes.

Personally, it was great to see so many of my colleagues again from over 20 years of being involved in the filtration industry.

It was also a surprise to see a film crew on the stand, but apparently a German TV company were making a short piece on Palas at the show.  My mum will be proud to know that I managed to get my face on the telly (being 'demonstrated to') and I'm waiting for the film from my colleagues .... to prove it.

The show itself was full, with all stands occupied.  My over-riding impression from the show was the number of Asian companies showing their products at this year's show.  From non-wovens to woven wire mesh to finished pocket and panel filter products, with the booths being very well presented, rather than what I've seen before which may be perhaps a little lower in quality.  A sign of the times I think?

Being a Physicist and perhaps a bit geeky, the star of the show for me was a desktop electron microscope, which when demonstrated took less than 2 mins for sample prep, followed by operation like a coffee machine with the stud and sample loaded at the front of the unit.  Excellent quality, reasonable resolution and at approx. €60K ...every home should have one !  With a low cost sputtering system this really is a step forward in small scale visualisation for particles, fibre structures, membranes, loaded media etc.

As for the Palas stand, the equipment on display was virtually under continuous use.  Having offered testing on the stand, this became a bit of a double edged sword, the customers being highly impressed with seeing their medias tested in front of them, but with some bringing their entire portfolio for assessment and requiring continuous testing activity!  The MMTC 2000 Cleanable media tester and the MFP 3000 flatsheet tester were perhaps the two most occupied.

New for the Filtech show was an expansion to the Nano range of equipment.  Two new instruments were launched:

  • The DEMC 1000 / 2000, a differential electrical mobility classifier, is based on an already well validated design. The DEMC (also known as a DMA) proved a hit on the stand, with much interest generated with being able to retrofit with other manufacturers CPC's to form an SMPS.
  • The U-SMPS (scanning mobility particle sizer) combines the new DEMC with the novel and patented UF-CPC Condensation Particle Counter, which allows the use of a range of fluids from water to the more common solvent butanol.  Changeover of fluids is easy and the instrument allows control of temperatures in the evaporator and condenser to offer improved sensitivity.

That makes a pretty complete range of nano instrumentation and bodes well for the future.

All in all, a good few days spent in the company of like minded individuals and highly recommended for anyone interested in filtration application and technology.

Friday, 11 March 2011

North East of England - a centre for Vacuum Separator development

An area of world leadership in design and manufacturing for the North East of England, perhaps not well publicised despite many prestigious national awards for the companies involved, is high efficiency cartridge filtration. 

One major application area where these products are used is internal oil separation for oil flooded vacuum pumps and its here that the North East can claim to be a market leader.

For those that aren't familiar with the application, oil flooded vacuum pumps use rotating mechanical compressors to generate a low pressure at the inlet to a vacuum pump, and hence generate a flow of gas from a piping system or process which results in a vacuum (reduction of pressure) in that system.  Vacuum is used in a wide range of applications ranging from medical suction in hospitals through to industrial and chemical processing.

The oil is required to cool, seal and to lubricate the rotating components against the static chamber in which they rotate.  The process is an excellent aerosol generator, so the oil mist generated in the process must be removed from the exhausting air flow, to prevent environmental contamination and for health reasons, but also to recycle the oil to the sump so that it can be reused allowing the pump to operate continuously.  This is achieved by high efficiency filter cartridges or separators, which sit inside an exhaust chamber in the vacuum pump and reduce the oil aerosol concentration in the exhausting gas to much lower than 5 mg/m3 which is currently the agreed occupational exposure limit (8 hr time-weighted average) for environmental oil mist, although this limit is always under review.

There are many manufacturers of this type of vacuum pump, some of the leading manufacturers in Europe include Busch GmbHGardner Denver Schopfheim GmbH with manufacturing sites in Switzerland and Germany and Oerlikon Leybold manufacturing in France.

The application is actually quite a difficult one for filtration developers, in that the air velocities and challenge concentrations are high, the exhaust gas is hot and the flow pattern can be pulsed. The design of exhaust boxes is also very different both between manufacturers and across each manufacturer's model ranges.

Development of separators is a highly scientific process, with the characteristics of each pump and oil used having to be assessed in conjunction with any new materials or designs.  High efficiency filter media combinations used for the separation process must be packaged into robust easily replaceable cartridges.  The mist contains predominantly micron and sub-micron (<0.001 mm) particles and so aerosol particle spectrometers are increasingly being applied to the assessment process, with computer modeling of design parameters, including air flows using Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD, being used to validate new designs.  The separators can also be effective in reducing environmental noise levels which emanate from the sump and exhaust box on these systems.

The North East of England is fortunate to have at least four developers and manufacturers of these products, Parker domnick hunter, Walker Filtration Ltd, Tiger Filtration Ltd and PSI Global Ltd all of which are significant exporters for the region.  Filter Integrity Limited also provides consulting services into this sector.

Tens of thousands of separators a month are dispatched all over the world from these companies and between them they supply most of the world's market leading Vacuum Pump OEMs.  I've been involved in product developments in this market for over 20 years now and whilst other manufacturing has gradually moved out of the UK, it is very encouraging to see such development and manufacturing success being retained in the region.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Preparing for Filtech 2011

Well, this is a new experience for me seeing the Filtech exhibition in Wiesbaden, March 22nd-24th, from the viewpoint of a supplier / consultant. 

I have to say that Palas GmbH have done a great job in getting the stand sorted this year. There are a couple of significant new product launches in their Nano range and examples of almost every instrument will be on the stand and operating ...... excellent ....... and certainly the best opportunity to see the whole range in one place.  It's also going to be a great opportunity for me to catch up with developments and the team.

I'm looking forward to the three days of the show and meeting up with both new contacts and colleagues in the filtration industry from my past 20 years.  I've already arranged with several contacts to meet up on the Palas stand, but if you are about then give me a yell, I'll be touring the show with business cards and brochures at the ready !

Monday, 7 March 2011

Up and running

Welcome to the new Filter Integrity Particulars blog, the particle science and filtration blog.

My name is Andrew Chalmers and I'm a Director at Filter Integrity Limited a small but growing technical consultancy based in the North East of England.  My interests are in the development of particle monitoring systems and the filtration process' and products, for particle sizes from nanometer to millimeter scales.

I've been involved in filtration process development for environmental, pharmaceutical and industrial applications and for particles in fluids ranging from atmospheric gases such as air, nitrogen and argon through to liquids including concentrated acids, chemical intermediates, purified water and sterile pharmaceutical products.

I hope that you find this blog interesting and informative.