According to market tracker Smithers Apex, the market will grow from $3.5 billion in 2014 to $4.6 billion in 2019 at a compounded annual growth rate of 5.6%. This impressive growth has attracted new investment from industry newcomers and old standbys looking to capitalize on filtration’s growing importance in consumers’ lives.
“The global filtration market continues to grow in the long term by the increased need for high performing filtration solutions and the need for cleaner and healthier environments,” says Noora Blasi, marketing manager, engine and industrial filtration and advanced filtration, Ahlstrom. “Changes in demographics, healthcare industry and resource scarcity are the key drivers contributing to the changing needs of end users.”
However, this market has not been without its woes, according to the Smithers Apex study. The slow and uneven recovery of global economies from the recent recession has had a significant impact upon the growth of nonwovens for filtration, the study found. With some of the key markets in automotive and construction still growing slowly in some regions, nonwovens use in filtration has had to aggressively replace older filter media materials, like paper and textiles.
Although air/gas filter media makes up the larger share of global nonwoven consumption for filter media, liquid filter media, driven by the large and increasingly performance driven automotive/transportation category, is consistently growing faster than air/gas filter media.
Suppliers of nonwoven materials to the filtration market agree. Kimberly-Clark’s CAFS associate category manager, Robert Martin, sees the market for differentiated filtration solutions as robust with growth and interest driven by the desires of the professional facilities market and consumer homeowners to create healthy, energy efficient spaces in which to work, learn and live.
K-C offers mechano-electret filtration media technology that provides superior particle capture of the submicron particles that can cause health problems and does so at a low airflow resistance for less energy consumption.
“From a business standpoint, we work as true partners with our filter manufacturer customers, providing technical expertise, marketing support and supply chain efficiencies,” Martin says. “Our customers also know that they can depend on our media to perform in both their manufacturing process and their end product. Being able to feel confident in what they’re buying is a big reason why our customers turn to us for their media needs.”
Kimberly-Clark’s broad range of filter media for HVAC applications include pleat, pocket and minipleat filters. The patented process that produces the filter media allows the company to create a controlled gradient structure that has increasing fiber density from the upstream to the downstream side. This media construction, coupled with a proprietary electrostatic treating technology, allows filters made with Kimberly-Clark filter media to achieve high initial and sustainable filtration efficiencies with low pressure drop. In liquid filtration, K-C products provide unique solutions for the rigorous demands of industrial metal working.
Innovation Meets Demand
Martin says he believes that innovation is valued in filtration when it meets a market need.
“For example, in the air filtration market, the concepts of superior particle capture efficiency and superior energy efficiency can be at odds. But with mechano-electret filter media technology, we know that the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive.”
Meanwhile, Ahlstrom’s product portfolio serves multiple industries. In engine filtration applications, the company has novel solutions like Ahlstrom Captimax and DuraLube 3S to comply with environmental standards and requirements. In industrial applications, Ahlstrom’s solutions cover power generation, high efficiency air and industrial air. “We have multiple technology platforms which make filter solutions for industrial applications—some examples are Trinitex, NanoPulse and Statguard,” Blasi says.
In water filtration, Ahlstrom’s Disruptor technology is creating many new application opportunities across the entire spectrum of water filtration. This technology can be effective in the reduction of heavy metals in many residential and commercial applications. Some examples are in point-of-entry and point-of-use devices such as whole house filters, countertop and under counter filters, food and beverage preparation and ice machines.
“This technology is changing the world of filtration because it is not a mechanical filter media,” Blasi says. “Instead, it removes submicron contaminants through electroadhesion and ion exchange. As users become accustomed to working with a non-mechanical filter media, many new and exciting applications are being developed.”
And, Ahlstrom continues to innovate. In July, it introduced GenCollect and GenCollect Color specimen collection cards, an easy and cost effective way to collect and store biosamples at ambient temperatures. They are suited for a wide range of applications including genotyping, forensics and paternity tests. Upon application of biosamples to the GenCollect and GenCollect Color cards, nucleic acids become preserved for short-term storage at room temperature.
Also in the life sciences realm, Ahlstrom has been working on developing new media solutions for plasma separation. Ahlstrom CytoSep is widely used for the rapid separation of plasma for small volume blood samples in lateral flow applications. The newest generation of CytoSep HV products increase options for product development.
Turning toward oil filtration, Ahlstrom DuraLube 3S is a new range of fully synthetic oil filter media and it gives the strength required to comply with the new advances in automotive technology. A key feature in DuraLube 3S is the ability to hold its structure in hot temperatures without any support layer. This brings cost savings in the materials used and in processing time.
Innovation Equals Efficiency
Hollingsworth & Vose, a supplier of a range of high efficiency filtration media products, has continued to focus on innovation to retain its leading position spot in the filtration market. Its ongoing commitment to its markets and investment in new technologies as well as its global reach and strong local capabilities have contributed to its success. In fact, the company credits much of its growth to innovative filter products like NanoWave synthetic media and Technostat electrostatic media, and H&V has recently completed investments to meet demand for both of these products—a Technostat line in Floyd, VA, and new NanoWave capacity in Hatzfeld, Germany.
“We are really pleased with our recent expansions for NanoWave in Europe and Technostat in the U.S.,” says Mike Clark, division president High Efficiency and Specialty Filtration (HESF) for H&V. “NanoWave and Technostat are high performance technology platforms that have enabled H&V to further differentiate our products and help our customers increase filtration efficiency and filter life while lowering pressure drop. These patented technologies have broad market appeal and can be applied to provide solutions for a wide array of filtration challenges and address evolving market needs.”
Technostat has helped H&V meet the need for improved air quality and lower energy costs thanks to its low pressure drop. Meanwhile, NanoWave is the highest performing pocket filter media available and the only synthetic product that achieves an A+ energy rating while meeting the EN779:2012 standard emphasizing mechanical filtration.
Clark says H&V plans to further expand both of these product lines with composite products and will also introduce a new product line of pleatable synthetics for HVAC and specialty filtration applications.
“Although the filtration industry is somewhat conservative in adopting new technologies it is an industry that values innovation,” Clark says. “The industry is constantly looking for ways to address the fundamental issues of clean air and clean liquids, for people, processes, and the environment.”
Clark adds that, across the board, filtration standards are trending towards higher performance. “Customers want the improved performance (e.g., cleaner air, gases, and liquids) without sacrificing energy consumption, the filter footprint or filter life,” he says. “Despite the many advancements by H&V and the broader industry, there is certainly ample opportunity for further innovations in filtration. “
Generally speaking, on a regional basis, it is easier to “get into the game” as the barriers to entry are decreasing with market segments becoming increasingly fragmented. However, as the broader filtration market trends towards consolidation and standardization, the barriers to entry for becoming a global player are increasing.
Another high efficiency filtration media maker, Lydall has also been ramping up its business. In February 2014, the company finalized the acquisition of baghouse filter media maker Andrew Industries, which added needlepunch capabilities as well as manufacturing sites in the U.S. and China to its existing facilities. The new business, now known as Lydall Industrial Filtration, adds about $130 million in sales annually to its overall results.
According to executives, the biggest change in the acquired business has to do with capitalizing on synergies with Lydall’s existing businesses. For instance, as Lydall has faced supply shortages in capacity for its needlepunch-based thermal acoustical nonwovens, they have been relying on some capacity from the acquired business to meet demand.
Lydall’s Performance Materials division, which includes its wetlaid nonwovens, targets sophisticated filtration applications for air, fluid power and industrial applications, liquid science applications and thermal insulation solutions for building products, appliances and industrial materials. Its product lineup in this segment constitutes the critical media components of clean air systems for applications in clean-space, commercial, industrial and residential HVAC, power generation and industrial process.
Within this segment, the LyPore liquid filtration media series addresses a variety of application needs in fluid power including hydraulic filters, air-water and air-oil coalescing industrial fluid processes and diesel fuel filtration, while in the gas turbine industry, Arioso media delivers E10 to E12 efficiency at world class low resistance.
In addition to product development and acquisition, capital investment is the third leg of Lydall’s growth strategy. In March 2014, the company improved its filtration operations with the addition of a small wetlaid line in Rochester, NH. Described as a minimill, this state-of-the-art line, dedicated primarily to smaller runs, offers benefits like a faster start up, increased efficiency and better flexibility. This will help Lydall cater to the life science markets where many applications have smaller batch sizes. The line can provide customers with products in an efficient manner and allows Lydall to hold research and development and testing trials without monopolizing its existing assets.
Building and construction specialist Johns Manville has also been investing in its filtration business. Its new bicospunbond line, which was completed earlier this year in Berlin, Germany, makes cleanable filter media that offers excellent mechanical strength and pleatability for air pollution control applications.
For HVAC applications, JM provides its microglass air media with 100% biosoluble glass fibers that are harmless to health. The natural structure of the filter media allows a low pressure drop combined with a very high dust holding capacity. Furthermore, it enables purely mechanical filtration.
JM also offers biosoluble glass micro fibers for HEPA/ULPA and ASHRAE air filtration. The very fine diameter of the micro fibers leads to high-filtration efficiency. They are easily dispersible, providing improved density and tensile strength within filter papers. For food & beverage applications, JM will offers polypropylene meltblown. The product provides precision calendaring delivering consistent filtration properties. A third party certification is available for high-purity filtration applications.
Sandler Looks for High Value
German nonwovens producer Sandler has always had a strong focus on filtration but with regulations on indoor air quality becoming more stringent, executives expect the technology’s role to increase.
Able to make a range of filter media, Sandler targets HVAC applications, the automotive industry, synthetic vacuum cleaner bags, customized special filters for liquid filtration as well as medical and hygiene applications. These fiber-based nonwovens cover the grades G2 to M5; meltblown filter media for fine dust filtration are available in filter classes up to E11 and are produced using submicron fibres.
Sandler pocket and pleat filter media are made of the finest fibers, featuring a large inner surface that facilitates mechanical deposition effects and combine a permanently high filtration performance and a long operating life, allowing for energy efficient utilization while requiring fewer replacements.
The nonwovens maintain their efficiency even after discharge, thus meeting the requirements of DIN EN 779:2012 and prEN ISO 16890-1.
The efficient pocket filter media for ventilation and air conditioning feature a low pressure drop, are shedding-free and bacteriostatic and its pleatable filter media for HVAC applications as well as transportation are self-supporting, resistant to breakage and easily processable in all common pleating technologies. Their longitudinally oriented fiber structure supports accurate pleating; the utilized polymers render the pleats stable and resistant to mechanical influences. They help improve the indoor air quality in buildings as well as in vehicles.
Sandler’s fuel filter media are unaffected by humidity and resistant to the engine fluids as well as operating temperatures in the engine compartment, allowing them to help protect the engine and contribute to efficient combustion.
Sandler nonwovens for synthetic vacuum cleaner bags feature a soft, textile touch, but securely retain dirt particles and dust and foster a higher suction power. They are sturdy, unaffected by moisture and offer no breeding grounds to mold or germs. All of these properties are achieved without chemical additives.
“In the face of increasing environmental damage and simultaneously rising demands on indoor air quality, for example in public spaces, a change in the entire air-filtration market has become apparent,” says Peter Reich, manager for Sandler’s filtration products division. “Filter media have to offer both energy efficiency and high filtration performance, pertaining to particles and odor as well as temperature.”
As a result, Sandler has placed a high emphasis on the energy efficiency of all of its filter media. Being free from fiber shedding and bacteriostatic, Sandler media also address the requirements for climate filtration in medical institutions. “Corresponding to Eurovent 4/11, our product development focuses on reducing the energy consumption during the operation of the filter plant while featuring high efficiency throughout the filter’s operating life,” Reich adds.
In order to meet these requirements, Sandler constantly develops its filtration nonwovens and invests in manufacturing technology. In 2012, a new meltblown production line went into operation allowing Sandler to advance its pleatable filter media offerings.
These media set standards, particularly in terms of processability and performance. For example, its 100% synthetic filter medium for HVAC pleat filters is flexible enough to be used in panel filters or V-cell-filter production. This filter medium combines high efficiency even after discharge, corresponding to the DIN EN 779:2012 (M5 – F9) standard, and a comparatively low pressure drop with the advantages of synthetic filter media: Featuring a t-layer structure, it is made of elastic, non-breakable fibers. The nonwoven is resistant to moisture and features a high mechanical stability and pleat stability.
All of these technology advancements will not go without a reward, according to experts. Reich, for one, says he thinks more and more stringent requirements on filter media will continue to drive prices for high quality materials to rise. Customers of these products, however, will be willing to pay for the high level of performance they provide.
“New, internationally applicable testing standards regarding both filtration performance and energy efficiency will become binding and regulations will increasingly be adapted to real-life conditions. In the process, medical aspects also gain in importance,” he says, adding that Sandler filter media already address themselves to these priorities.
“With a low pressure drop they reduce energy consumption during the operation of the filtration plant. Progressively structured filter media contain fine fibers of <1 µm and attain high efficiency as well as high dust holding capacity. These nonwovens are resistant to temperature and moisture—durable synthetic media featuring optimum performance throughout the filter’s operating life.”