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By Richard Juskowiak, Donaldson Process Filtration
Under production demands in today’s plants, better performance is required from sterile gas and liquid filters. Yet the technology has not appreciably changed in three decades.
Over the past two years though, a team of 40 materials scientists and engineers teamed up with major food and beverage companies to address historic problems in microfiltration. The resulting collaboration brought significant improvements in:
Under the name LifeTec™ from Donaldson Company, the improved line of filters launched in Europe and North America in 2016. Here is more about the problems LifeTec has overcome:
Within the industry's standard filter element size—2.75” diameter with lengths in 10” increments—there has always a trade-off between volume of flow and higher pressure drops, which consume additional energy. Speeding up production requires flow rates. So to solve this challenge, engineers of LifeTec developed a pleat pack with a dense configuration of polyethersulfone (PES) media. The membrane's asymmetrical “pores” provide the cut-off range necessary for sterilization, while improving flow capacity compared with a symmetric membrane.
By packing a standard-size cartridge with 20 percent more of this material—and increasing the cartridge’s “free space” to optimize flow—the new element is capable of processing up to 20 percent more fluid within the manufacturers’ existing vessels.
The harsh conditions of processing, cleaning, and sterilization in food and beverage plants stress filters quickly; and when they're installed, they can be inadvertently twisted. Because filter media is a delicate, precision structure, any damage to the cage must be avoided.
The LifeTec elements are structured around diamond shapes or triangulations—similar to the structure of support bridges. This design resists forces that can break or weaken the element, and also better withstands pressure differential across the filter during high volumes of fluid processing every day.
A filter that withstands compromise during installation and operation improves safety, lifecycle, and overall cost savings.
The third challenge for liquid filtration has been a supply issue. Filter and related parts come in so many unique sizes and ratings that users have often had to wait weeks for parts that are manufactured only occasionally.
Donaldson addressed this problem by applying single-flow manufacturing for LifeTec. Components in each 10” element module—including a specific length or end-cap style—can be quickly custom-manufactured and has full traceability with individual serial numbers. This method speeds delivery and also potentially reduces manufacturer defects as well.
LifeTec is a truly groundbreaking technology in liquid and gas filtration, setting a new standard for the water bottling and other liquid applications. Plants owned by a major global soft drink manufacturer in Europe and others who participated in the product development are now the first customers. When food and beverage processors are upgrading their filtration systems, the new technology may boost operational performance and safety.