Filtration is an important business for Ahlstrom-Munksjö, a company formed in April 2017 through the merger of Ahlstrom and Munskjö. The new company is a global leader in sustainable and innovative fiber-based solutions. While the company now has interests outside of nonwovens, this business continues to represent almost half of net sales and filtration is a large part of that. The company proved the importance of this market in July when it said it would release additional capacity in Turin, Italy, to support growing demand for filtration media.
“This capacity increase aims at improving our current service level but also, more strategically, enables us to offer to our customer an industrial platform on which they can build to further growth their business,” says Fulvio Capussotti, executive vice president of filtration and performance.
This investment follows a similar one in Madisonville, KY, which was announced in October 2016 and will help the company strengthen it focus in North and South America. Both investments will enhance the quality and widen the range of engine and industrial filtration materials being offered by Ahlstrom-Munksjö.
Hollingsworth & Vose
In 2016, Hollingsworth & Vose, Walpole, MA, attributed demand for synthetic and composite filter media as well as HEPA media for cleanroom applications as key growth drivers, helping to bring its sales to $350 million for the year and this growth is expected to continue as new products like Nanowave, Technostat and AlphaPerm help customers increase filtration efficiency without increasing pressure drops. “For core ‘people and process protection’ applications such as HVAC, Room Air Purifier, Facemask, Cabin Air, and Gas Turbine, this translates in to markedly improved IAQ (Indoor Air Quality), process productivity, and energy savings,” says Mike Clark, president of the high efficiency and specialty filtration division.
H&V’s Nanowave delivers maximum mechanical efficiency with a step change in low airflow resistance while more than doubling dust holding capacity compared to standard, flat sheet synthetic media. This translates into significant energy savings and a longer filter life.
Meanwhile, Technostat is an electrostatically charged air filter media with high efficiency and dust holding capacity as well as the lowest airflow resistance in the industry compared to other media with the same efficiency. The product is in high demand where low air resistance without a compromising efficiency and dust holding is required such as in respiratory protection, cabin air filtration, HVAC and appliance filters. More recently, H&V has expanded this platform into industrial face mask, cabin air and application applications where the materials can offer a 20% reduction in thickness at the same efficiency.
AlphaPerm 100% synthetic meltblown air filtration media offers 40% lower resistance compared to standard meltblown media, and is highly charged, with excellent pleatability on backer, rotary and blade pleaters.
Clark says that his company’s success in these markets reflect a shift in market dynamics from process protection to people protection. “As people around the globe are becoming increasingly aware of, and even concerned with, their air quality, there is burgeoning demand for “people protection. Filtration is part of the solution, to counterbalance increasing environmental stress resulting from global industrialization and population growth,” he says.
Kimberly-Clark Professional manufactures and sells nonwoven filter media for both air and liquid applications through its Partnership Products business. On the air filtration side of the business, K-C sells media with target efficiencies ranging from MERV 7 to MERV 15. Customers are filter manufacturers who, in turn, sell finished air filters for use in commercial and institutional buildings, homes and vehicle cabins. On the liquid filtration side of our business, we sell media to manufacturers of filters used in industrial applications, to purify coolants and metalworking process liquids, primarily in automotive manufacturing.
“As our business name implies, Kimberly-Clark Professional Partnership Products focuses on being a valued business partner with our customers, enabling their businesses to thrive. We support them in a number of ways,“ Kevin Morrow, business development manager, says. “First and foremost by supplying uniform, consistent, dependable filter media. Second, by being a trusted advisor to our customers, helping them to optimize their manufacturing processes and reduce waste. And third, by continuing to innovate and bring them distinctive nonwoven filter media that will meet their customers’ demands for superior particle capture efficiency and longer filter life, coupled with reduced energy consumption in both HVAC and industrial process applications.”
For K-C, growth in air filtration is being driven by the health and productivity benefits of good indoor air quality (IAQ). Individuals and businesses are growing more aware of the health dangers associated with dust, mold, pollution, bacteria and allergens in indoor air. They want healthy places to work, learn, shop, heal and relax, making IAQ improvement a big driver of industry growth. “We meet demands for improved IAQ with a line of electret-treated nonwoven filter media that offers superior particle capture efficiency, so those submicron airborne particles are removed from the breathing air,“ Morrow adds.
Another end-use driver of growth in air filtration is energy efficiency. A filter’s airflow resistance can cause HVAC air handling systems to consume more energy to deliver the required air flow. That extra work results in higher energy usage, leading to higher costs. KCP’s filter media uses an underlying mechanical structure, coupled with electret treatment, to efficiently capture particles while keeping airflow resistance low for a longer period of time. Plus, because filters made with K-C media last longer, there is a reduction in maintenance time and disposal costs associated with changing out filters.
The rise of chronic health problems like asthma and allergies are diving consumer awareness of ways they can make indoor environments healthier, and air filtration is a prime example. In most commercial and institutional buildings, air filters are changed at regular intervals by maintenance staff. These regular change-outs are important for providing fresh, clean air as well as reducing wear-and-tear on HVAC system components, which can become fouled with dust and debris.
Consumers also need to follow a regular filter maintenance change-out schedule in their homes. Most filter manufacturers recommend that filters be changed every three to four months, but that schedule might need to be accelerated if there are people in the home who have allergies, asthma, or other chronic respiratory diseases. Changing out filters is also a good idea after major home renovation projects, to help remove dust and other particulates from the air. And consumers shouldn’t forget about their vehicle. Regularly replacing their car’s cabin air filter is important, especially if they live in areas with high levels of outdoor air pollution, pollen, soot or other contaminants.
In liquid filtration, KCP produces a variety of spunbond and composite materials. In air filtration, it produces meltblown filter media with an electret charge.
Nonwovens provide an important advantage, especially in air filtration, because they can be charged with electret treatments to improve the filter’s particle capture efficiency while not degrading its airflow resistance. Particle capture in synthetic filter media can be enhanced by adding an electrostatic charge, creating an electro-mechanical structure that attracts particles with a natural charge (and those that pick up a natural charge as they pass through the air), similar to magnetic attraction.
Electret-treated media can provide high initial and high sustained efficiency over the entire filter lifecycle. It is particularly useful in increasing the capture efficiency for submicron particles — those particles that travel to the deepest part of the lungs, where they can cause health problems.
Nonwoven filter media also resists biological growth, which is important in both air and liquid filtration.
Globally, filtration is a multi-billion dollar market that includes both air and liquid filtration across a wide variety of end-use applications. While markets like China get a lot of attention, KCP also sees continued solid growth in North America. Different regions have somewhat different market drivers. In particular, there are different regulations and building requirements that require different levels of performance and product formats. For instance, European building regulations tend to require a higher level of filtration that would be standard in the U.S. KCP sees most of these markets growing steadily in the mid-to-high digits or low double digits.
Johns Manville’s latest production line, a bicomponent spinning line located in Berlin, Germany, offers specialized know-how and is flexible in fiber sizes, allowing the company to offer a large variety of multilayer products including not just the carrier to filter media but complete filter media products. These products feature a spunbond back topped with spin glass layer, creating filter media that require no electrostatic charge. This product has found substantial success in the HVAC market, according to Martin Kleinbrecht, marketing and portfolio management leader for nonwovens.
The Denver, CO-based company has also relied on machine upgrades to enhance its business, not just in filtration but across all of its major markets. Its next upgrade will occur in Wertheim, Germany, where an existing glass mat line, built in the 1970s, will be upgraded to increase its role in specialty markets.
While JM’s roots are in the building and construction market, the company has been active in filtration for 70 years and offers products for liquid and air applications. The company’s product portfolio for this industry consists of polyester spunbond, multilayer composites and microfibers. By inhibiting the movement of impurities, filters with JM materials support cleaner pools, indoor air quality, diesel efficiency and liquid purity. JM is one of the world’s largest glass air media and polyester spunbond producers with world-class expertise and technology, and a leading market position in filtration media for cabin air, liquid and HVAC.
Sandler develops and produces synthetic filter media for HVAC applications, the automotive industry, synthetic vacuum cleaner bags, customized special filters for liquid filtration as well as medical and hygiene applications. 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 fibers. Sandler pocket and pleat filter media are made of the finest fibers, featuring a large inner surface that facilitates mechanical deposition effects. They combine a permanently high filtration performance and a long operating life. The nonwovens maintain their efficiency to meet the requirements of DIN EN 779:2012 and the new ISO 16890 norm.
Sandler’s efficient pocket filter media for ventilation and air conditioning feature a low pressure drop, are shedding-free and bacteriostatic. Pleatable Sandler filter media for HVAC applications as well as transportation are self-supporting, resistant to breakage and easily processable in all common pleating technologies. Their 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. Unaffected by humidity and resistant to the engine fluids as well as operating temperatures in the engine compartment, Sandler fuel filter media help protect the engine and contribute to efficient combustion. Sandler nonwovens for synthetic vacuum cleaner bags feature a soft, textile touch, but retain dirt and dust and foster a higher suction power. They are sturdy, unaffected by moisture and offer no breeding grounds to mould or germs. All of these properties are achieved without chemical additives.
According to Peter Reich, associate sales director Filtration Products, filtration has always been an important business segment for Sandler and the company is constantly developing its products further in close cooperation with its customers. With regulations on indoor air quality becoming more stringent, the importance of this sector is likely to increase.
“We continue to invest in all of our sales markets and to advance our products through state-of-the-art production technology,” Reich says. “In 2012, a new meltblown production line went into operation. This line allowed us to advance our pleatable filter media, for example.”
Nonwovens made from fine fibers feature an open-pore structure conducive to filtration: The fibers create a flexible “fiber skeleton,” providing a large inner surface for particle deposition. Different combinations of raw materials and production technologies can adapt the nonwoven’s properties to the specific application. Through multi-layer structures, depth filter media can be created. This large number of possibilities makes nonwoven filter media ideal materials for pocket as well as pleat filters, for mat filters and vacuum cleaner bags.
The filtration market is constantly gaining in importance and advancing, Reich explains. “Product development is ongoing; new norms and standards change the market. All in all, it is an industry with a lot of potential and demand for innovation.”
With growing metropolitan areas and more and more vehicles on the roads, efficient filter media are in higher demand than ever. The air-filtration market is changing in the face of rising demands on indoor air quality and new international standards on filtration performance, such as the ISO 16890 norm. This norm bases filter media rating on realistic particle distributions and performance over time. Product development in the filtration industry is responding to these changes. Filter media have to offer both high filtration performance and energy efficiency.
Developments like the pocket filter medium enAIRsave offers these characteristics. A large inner surface is made through different filter layers and the finest submicron fibers. enAIRsave features a low initial pressure drop and a slow increase in air resistance during use owing a high degree of dust deposition already in the coarser layers. This reduces the amount of energy used.
The pocket filter medium enAIRsave features a special multi-layer structure which combines filtration performance and energy efficiency. Large quantities of dust can be deposited in the coarser layers, optimizing filtration performance throughout the entire operating life. Air can keep flowing even if the filter already is loaded with dust; the pressure drop increases only very slowly during use. Consequently, the energy use during operation is kept low. enAIRsave thus corresponds to the requirements of ISO 16890 and achieves a favorable rating.