There are forever new applications to be uncovered or discovered
INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, serves hundreds of member companies in the nonwovens/engineered fabrics industry in global commerce. Since 1968, INDA events have helped members connect, learn, innovate and develop their businesses. Ahead of the INDA-organised international conference and exhibition on filtration, president Dave Rousse discusses the advancements in this field and the focus of Filtration 2018.
The filtration industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy. This is because of the ever-increasing awareness of the health and sustainability benefits of cleaner air, water, process fluids, biomaterials, industrial gases, transportation fluids, and almost everything we deal with. The elimination or reduction of impurities is the functional benefit of good filtration, and everything we do is healthier, more efficient, and more productive with effective filtration processes. We see this sector continuing to grow in existing areas such as indoor air quality, transportation, process fluids, water and biotechnology, as well as in the newer areas around energy production, membrane technology for fluids and gases, and more in the biosciences. There will forever be new applications as our overall science and understanding grows and new applications are uncovered or discovered.
Certainly, the incorporation of nanofibre technologies with existing media technologies continues to have a huge impact on filter media and performance. With filtration performance dependent on pore size and distribution, the nanofibres increase both at low cost, giving us higher efficacy at the same cost levels. We are now seeing the advances in sensor technology and internet connectivity growing in filtration. For example, in indoor air filtration, filter performance is determined by, among other things, the filter capacity. Once the pore spaces are filled with particulates, the filter needs to be changed. But measuring this, or by proxy the pressure drop pre- and post-filter, has been difficult, so a simple time-based filtration change scheme is often used, which may be too soon or too late. With sensor technology and the IoT advances, a more true measure of filter performance is possible which will result in more effective filter change schemes and cleaner indoor air quality. This example can be applied to almost any filtration process. So, the IoT will improve the quality of filtration everywhere.
Filtration is growing in North America at about 5-6 per cent per year, which is 2-3 percentage points faster than overall GDP. It is a very competitive business with many players and many applications, with applications growing in breadth every year. While competitive, there are still many opportunities for smart, effective new products and approaches to filtering air, water, gases, fuels, biomaterials, etc.
In the nonwoven/engineered materials area, filter media are made with several different processes and from several different materials. The flexibility of the processes and the variety of base fibre material sources creates a wide universe of choices to be matched to specific project needs. Many media are composites such as spunbond-meltblown-spunbond composites, or meltblown-nanofibre composites. Common materials include polyester, polypropylene, glass and nylon. The choices are vast, and the applications are as well. Most filters are not biodegradable as they are designed to perform in environments that can be harsh, and can contain elements that would trigger the biodegradation process before the filter has performed its intended function.
Our Filtration 2018 International Conference Exposition will be in Philadelphia this October 2-4. We are expecting another great event with about 150 exhibitors and 1,500 attendees covering a swathe of the overall filtration and separation industry. Several exhibitors will be showcasing new products, from media to measuring devices to forming equipment to finishing materials. Going forward from 2018, we will be expanding the event into a broader global Filtration and Separation event called FiltXpo to respond to the growing need for a US-based global filtration event akin to the very successful Filtech event in Germany every 18 months. We will fix the location in Chicago and adjust the timing to an 18-month sequence opposite the Filtech event. So, global industry participants will have the opportunity to showcase their products in Europe and in the US with adequate time between the two events. A full technical conference programme will be conducted simultaneously with the show. We need to expand this important event to better serve the needs of this ever-growing and important industry.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of technicaltextile.net.