Owners of air and liquid filters will spend more than $9 billion for nonwoven filter media in 2019.
What is included: HVAC air filtration including gas turbine inlet filters; liquid cartridge filtration for industrial, residential, and commercial filtration; dust collectors which are cleaned by air pulsing, reverse air or shaking; cross flow membrane support for microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and reverse osmosis; cloths, bags, and belts used in liquid macrofiltration.
What is not included: medical device filtration, lubrication and hydraulic filtration, face masks, automotive and other mobile filters.
Media manufacturers are generally larger than their OEM filter customers. Their products are critical to filter performance. The greatest potential for innovation is in the media. It is therefore important that the media suppliers understand the filter products and the processes in which the filters are used. This has been difficult because the filter manufacturer has been reluctant to share his process knowledge.
This situation is starting to change thanks to the advent of IIoT and Remote O&M. The best example is the 3M Filtret furnace filter. It has a blue tooth embedded pressure sensor which alerts 3M when the pressure drop becomes excessive. In the future there is likely to be prolific data on performance for millions of HVAC filters.
The furnace filter would be classed as a general performance product. It is not in either critical or severe service. Of the total media market of $9 billion approximately $3 billion will be classified as high performance. This is media purchased based on total cost of ownership in severe or critical service. The owner is willing to pay a higher price for his filters (and media).
A general performance medium can be enhanced to provide higher performance and thus command a higher price. 3M entered the furnace filter market several decades ago and was the major force in conveying the performance advantages of more expensive media in providing healthier indoor air. The new pressure sensor adds further enhancement.
The potential for high performance media is very significant. Gas turbine operators have found that sub-micron particles in small amounts increase maintenance on the newer design gas turbines. Conventional HEPA filters can provide the needed efficiency increase but are not sufficiently robust.
Higher temperature nonwovens would allow dust collector operation at temperatures above 400F. The results in energy recovery would justify much higher media costs. Creation of specific particle distributions in biopharmaceutical, food, paint or other product slurries provides value far beyond the media cost.
With the likely proliferation of performance data through data analytics and remote monitoring media manufacturers will have the opportunity to work with end users as well as filter suppliers to provide superior products.