Automotive: Innovative filtration applications in the auto industry

Filtration and separation processes are widely employed in the automotive industry. Anthony Bennett reviews some of these processes used in engine manufacture, vehicle production and car assembly.

This article focuses on a number of innovative filtration and separation technologies used in the automotive industry. It concentrates on engine manufacture, briefly reviewing technology trends in engine operation and the impact of those on filtration requirements, before describing advances in filtration and separation technology used in engine fabrication, focusing on oil mist elimination, magnetic filtration of cooling fluids and engine parts washing. In automotive vehicle production there are issues of filtration in casting mould production for manufacture of body parts, and the separation of solids from body treatment solutions, coatings and paint. Finally, one innovative technology is reviewed that is used in both vehicle assembly and maintenance processes.

Engine manufacture
Within the internal combustion engine, filtration now employs higher efficiency materials, in both liquid and air filters, with various innovations including for example the introduction of nano-materials on Porvair Filtration’s filters. They incorporate P2i Limited’s patented nano-coating technology which employs a pulsed ionised gas (plasma), created within a vacuum chamber, to molecularly bond a nanometre-thin polymer layer over the entire surface of the filtration product.

Richard Canepa, business development consultant at RTC Consulting reports that in regards to filter housing design there is a trend developing for compact filtration systems such as Z-pleated filters. Richard Canepa said: “There is also a move towards more ecologically friendly filter housings to minimise the material disposed of in recycling, such as with oil filter cartridges where the housing becomes part of the engine.”

Richard Canepa added: “As the automobile evolves through the phase out of internal combustion engines into electronics, the need for combination air and gas filtration will be necessary, especially in the use of fuel cells. There is also much work going on with newer technologies such as HCCI [homogeneous charge compression ignition] engines and also there is increased use of direct injection. Because of the use of exhaust gas recirculation, there will be an added need for high temperature systems to filter exhaust recirculation gases on direct injection engines.”

Concentrating on filtration processes used in automotive engine manufacture rather than engine operation, we now focus on three innovative technologies used for oil mist elimination, magnetic filtration of cooling fluids and engine parts washing.

The improvements in engine technology and manufacturing techniques evident have resulted in tightening of tolerances on machined parts. This has enhanced the need for filtration and separation technologies to remove particles and debris from coolant, lubricating and cutting fluids. Short tool life can be avoided by employing effective filtration to reduce defects and rework of machined parts.

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