An optimized filtration process is key for process efficiency, safety and productivity in upstream, midstream and downstream oil & gas and refining applications. Not all elements are created equal. Relatively small changes in filter characteristics (also called cartridge or element) can have a big impact on process efficiency and output. In this article we have listed some key questions to help determine the best fit element for your filtration application.
What are you filtering?
The type, size, volume of contaminants has a major impact on the type of element. Also, based on where the element is in the process, it maybe used to filter specific contaminants ranging from solids, liquids, or semi-solids. Do you have a wide micron size spectrum of contaminants, semi-solids, or shear sensitive solids? For example, waxy or paraffinic semi-solids can wreak havoc on surface loading (pleated) elements, causing frequent changeouts and higher operating costs.
What is the chemical compatibility?
Another big factor to consider is the chemical compatibility of the media with the process feed. The obvious problem with compatibility is the media and filter components can be destroyed by a chemical attack. An issue that we have observed is the element media can have an affinity towards a product and swell up making it less effective causing premature high differential pressures and lower filter run times.
Where in the process is the element being used?
Element selection is determined by evaluating the entire process. A filtration system upstream of the heat exchanger would protect it from fouling and efficiency losses but temperature constraints may make some filter options unviable. Each filtration media type and components used to manufacture the elements have temperature constraints, and limited options work effectively at high temperatures. A filtration expert can work with you to ensure all filtration components are suitable for your application.
Do you have an existing vessel?
Existing vessel design should always be evaluated for proper operation. Are the elements creating a positive seal during operation and is your filter designed to minimize the number of possible leak paths? For example, many small diameter filters have a “double open end” or “DOE” configuration that utilize a separate cap and spring which provide multiple bypass points if not installed correctly. Contact your filter expert to see if the same element is available with an integral cap and spring. Typically, there are several options available on the market from different manufacturers. Another option is to check with suppliers to see if there is a more effective way of utilizing the existing vessel by reconfiguring the internals.
Is your current element media being used to its fullest extent?
An element should not be evaluated on surface area alone. Bridging is a scenario which is caused by overcrowding media in an element compromising the “effective surface area”. It is also possible to have too much filter media in an element causing the filter to be less effective. In some applications depth style elements are beneficial, and in others pleated style elements are more appropriate. Additionally, a used filter analysis is a very good way to determine if your existing element is performing properly and to its fullest capability.
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