This article will address the reasons why Industrial filtration is critical for many manufacturing facilities and the industrial processes that operate within them. From pharmaceutical to food processing to power generation industries, specialized equipment (vacuum pumps, blowers, compressors, gen-sets, etc..) must be protected to ensure both maximum uptime and high-quality outputs.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside of buildings and structures is commonly two to five times more polluted than the outside air. The level of air pollution can be even greater in industrial buildings, particularly for manufacturing plants or chemical processing facilities. Additionally, carry over from the manufacturing process, such as dust particles, oil mist aerosols, and condensed vapors, can accumulate both inside and outside the equipment leading to issues with process quality, equipment maintenance, and worksite safety.
Industrial filtration involves the removal of contaminating particles from air and other gases. Many industrial processes require air filtration and separation systems not only to protect equipment, but to also protect the work environment.
So, what is the purpose of filtration - and why is filtration important for industrial applications?
The most common uses for filtration include:
- Protecting Equipment from Ingesting Harmful Contaminants
- Removing Contaminants to Purify air and gas streams
- Protecting Personnel and the Work Environment
- Separating and Isolating Desirable Product from the Air Stream
Let’s discuss each of these uses for industrial filtration in detail.
1. Protecting Equipment from Ingesting Harmful Contaminants
Liquid Knockout Pots protecting rotary screw vacuum systems.
Contaminants that are present during the manufacturing process can be extremely damaging to equipment. One of the most important roles of industrial filtration is to capture and remove these contaminants and contain them for proper removal and disposal.
For instance, vacuum pumps are commonly used in pharmaceutical manufacturing to remove moisture from a product to create a powdered substance. During this process, some of the moisture and/or powder particles may be released into the air stream flowing to the vacuum pump. This residue could eventually clog the equipment and damage rotating components. In this example, a liquid separator and a particulate filter would be used to protect the vacuum pump from both liquids and particulates.
In more extreme applications, the manufacturing process can emit dangerous aerosols and vapors which could lead to vacuum pump failure - or even a combustion event, depending on the chemical compound(s). Therefore, the industrial air filtration system must remove these harmful byproducts to keep the equipment up and running. In this scenario, a vapor condensing trap would be used to ensure destructive vapors are condensed and effectively removed.
2. Removing Contaminants to Purify Air and Gas Streams
Vent filter on compressed air loader, used for pneumatically conveying plastics.
Industrial filtration is crucial in industrial manufacturing applications including, pneumatic conveying, additive manufacturing, and landfill gas collection. It helps to keep the air and gas free from contaminants during operations, helping to ensure purity of the process outputs.
Air and gas filtration must be thorough and measurable to ensure that harmful or undesirable contaminants are removed. The outputs for many processes in industrial manufacturing must be clean and pure; any slight variations in the contaminant level could result in unusable products.
One common issue that occurs when producing plastic parts is the appearance of dust particles in the final product. Through a process called pneumatic conveying, a blower uses pressurized air to move the raw plastic pellets or powders from a storage bin to a piece of production equipment such as an injection molding machine. The blower pulls ambient air in from the surrounding environment and then compresses it to push the raw plastic materials through transfer tubes. Oftentimes, airborne dust particles in the intake ambient air can result in the rejection of entire batches. In this application, an inlet air filter or combination inlet air filter and silencer would be used to protect the pressure blower.
3. Protecting Personnel and the Work Environment
A recent study concluded that the quality of the air has the highest impact on the overall well-being of employees. According to a report published by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, severe air pollution can slow down productivity and diminish output. Industries with cleaner air quality had higher levels of productivity from their workers. Therefore, installing proper industrial filtration systems is not just necessary for protecting equipment, but also essential for the safety and productivity of employees.
Source: Future Workplace Wellness Study
For example, oil mist can escape from oil lubricated vacuum pumps operating on the manufacturing floor. Even with an internal separator provided by the vacuum pump OEM, and under certain conditions, an oil-sealed vacuum pump may release excess oil mist discharge through the exhaust port. This mist can cause unpleasant odors and discharged oils can create slippery surfaces causing unnecessary health hazards. In addition to creating an uncomfortable and unsafe working environment, excessive oil mist emissions can affect the purity of the facility itself and cause contamination of raw materials and the output products.
In this scenario, a polishing oil mist eliminator or an adsorbent activated carbon filter can be used to capture this pollution from the exhaust ports keeping the work environment safe and clean.
4. Separating and Isolating Desirable Product from the Air Stream
Many vacuum manufacturing processes require a highly efficient separation of solids, liquids and vapors. This is not only to keep the systems functioning properly, but also to capture valuable process outputs and minimize waste. This can be accomplished using specialty filtration and separation products/systems that separate product from an air/gas stream under vacuum conditions.
These specialty systems are used to separate specific vapors, fluids, or solids from the air stream carried over from the manufacturing process.
For certain industries, this is a key part of the production process. For instance, essential oil producers must carefully extract and isolate specific chemical compounds under a vacuum to create a useable product.
Specialized vacuum cold trap separators are needed for this type of processing. The cold trap uses a cold medium such as liquid nitrogen to provide a very cold surface where essential oil vapors under vacuum conditions can condense to liquid form. Physical properties of the compound(s) and the volume of the product to be separated significantly influence the system’s design.
Liquid Nitrogen Trap condensing and collecting valuable essential oil (CBD Oil)
Common Industrial Air Filtration Applications
While nearly all industries can benefit from filtration systems, below are some of the most common applications:
- Medical, pharmaceutical, and dental vacuum and compressed air systems.
- Oil mist elimination from the exhaust or discharge of vacuum pumps.
- Oil mist elimination from the vents of rotating equipment: turbines, compressors, lube oil systems, coupling guards and gearboxes
- Crankcase ventilation: Protect the surrounding environment by capturing oil mist vapors created by reciprocating engines and gen-sets-
- Industrial Processes using Vacuum Pumps and Blowers: Pneumatic conveying, wastewater treatment, steel degassing, chemical vapor deposition (CVD), CNC routing.
- Hydraulic tank breathers
Industrial air filtration systems are necessary to capture common pollutants, thus helping to ensure product integrity and safety in manufacturing environments. Filtration systems are also essential to protect process equipment and maximize uptime and performance.
Solberg is proud to offer top-quality products, including industrial vacuum filters, traps, filter silencers, and oil mist eliminators for virtually all types of industrial air filtration applications. Our goal is to provide manufacturers with industrial filtration systems that support a safe, clean, and efficient workplace. We carry a wide variety of filters and systems which can be customized for specific machinery and applications.
Please contact our knowledgeable team to discuss your application conditions and our ideal solutions.