GLOBAL Improved Technology in Liquid Filtration July 2021

With higher production demands in today’s plants, better performance is required from sterile gas and liquid filters. Yet the technology, in general, has not appreciably changed in 3 decades.

Over the past 2 years, 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:

  • Throughput Volume
  • Integrity and Lifecycle
  • Filter replacement

Under the name LifeTec™ from Donaldson Company, the improved line of filters were launched in Europe and North America in 2016. With LifeTec™, food and beverage manufacturers gain the benefits from the following:

Throughput Volume

Within the industry's standard filter element size—2.75” diameter with lengths in 10” increments—there has always been a trade-off between volume of flow and higher pressure drops, which consume additional energy. Speeding up production requires flow rates. 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 sterilisation, 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 optimise flow—the new element is capable of processing up to 20 percent more fluid within the manufacturers’ existing vessels.

Integrity and Lifecycle

The harsh conditions of processing, cleaning, and sterilisation 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 can also better withstand pressure differential across the filter during high volumes of fluid processing daily.

A filter that withstands the harsh conditions during installation and operation improves safety, lifecycle, and offers overall cost savings.


Filter Replacement

The 3rd challenge for liquid filtration has been a supply issue. Filter and related parts come in so many unique sizes and ratings, and users often had to wait for several 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.


Putting the Benefits Together

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 its first customers.

Food and beverage processors looking to upgrade their filtration systems should opt for this new technology which can help to boost their operational performance and safety.

The above article is contributed by Richard Juskowiak, Product Support Specialist at Donaldson Company, Inc., in the process filtration group. Richard identifies technical solutions required by processors and works with engineers to introduce solutions for challenging applications.

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