Reusable Oil Filter Technology

Del Williams

High fuel prices, increasing emissions regulations and environmental concerns are driving fleets to cut expenses, emissions and waste disposal using new filter technology.

With ship fleets facing spiraling fuel prices and new tougher environmental regulations from the EPA and IMO, fleet managers have had to look for new technology to control costs and emissions.  One of the most promising areas to considerably cut spending while meeting all EPA and IMO regulations is reducing maintenance costs and waste production/disposal with reusable lubrication filter technology.
Traditional disposable filters have an important disadvantage: high replacement, disposal, inventory and environmental cost.  Every oil change, oil filters must be replaced, the old filters disposed of and the spare filters inventoried in a space-restricted marine setting.  All lubricant and air filters must also be regularly replaced, with disposal and inventory significantly adding to maintenance costs.
In a ship, there are many engines: not just propulsion engines, but up to 30 diesel engines on large ships that can run generators and pumps on a 24/7 basis.  All of these engines use filters, and replacement costs can spiral exponentially—as can disposal costs.  While some try to stretch the time each filter can last, failing to replace them when needed can hurt performance, horsepower, fuel mileage and engine life.  With fleets of ships, these costs can add up, and over 10 years can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The trend in the marine industry is away from disposable filters due to their high replacement, disposal, inventory and environmental costs,” said Bob Story, Vice President of Story Electric Co., a fleet, marine, and industry supplier based in Paducah, Ky., whose marine customers primarily transport commodities up and down the Mississippi River.
“For my marine customers, the cost of oil filter disposal is now several times the cost of the disposable filter itself,” said Story.  “River boats don’t stop when they take on fuel, supplies, or remove waste.  Third-party boats tie onto them while they’re in motion, remove the old filters, then a disposal company is paid to dispose of the waste.  The fleet ends up paying the price.”
A growing number of fleets, including some of Bob Story’s customers, are discovering that innovative, reusable filter technology can really cut the cost and complexity of filter maintenance.
“As part of a push toward reusability and sustainability, an energy company that uses tugboats to push coal up the river chose an FTG cleanable, reusable oil filter to reduce their environmental impact and save money,” said Story.  “The ROI can be rather quick, particularly in working fleets with high disposal costs.”
Instead of a traditional, disposable filter media enclosed in a metal canister that ends up in a landfill, Filtration Technology Group (FTG), a Cerritos, Calif.-based manufacturer of custom lubrication filters and a global supplier of quality filters and fittings, offers full-flow, cleanable, reusable filters that are designed to last the life of the engine or beyond.  The reusable filters replace lube oil and other filters with a cleanable stainless steel wire cloth filter and are available in configurations that spin directly onto existing mounting heads or in remote-mount models well-suited to space-constrained, below deck, marine applications.
The cleanable, reusable filter technology was first developed, tested and manufactured by Parker Hannifin’s Racor Division almost a decade before they turned the technology over to FTG, a full-service Racor distributor, which has independently manufactured it for the past several years.  Parker Hannifin Corporation, a $13 billion, global company, is the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems.
“The idea was to reduce the continual cost of filter replacement, waste disposal, and inventory,” said David Cline, Oil Filtration Product Manager at Parker Hannifin Corporation’s-Racor Filtration Division in Modesto, Calif.  “The cleanable, reusable filters reduce the waste stream by 100% because there are no longer any dirty oil filters to dispose of.”
“The reusable filters are designed to last the life of the engine and beyond,” said Cline.  “In fact, after an engine has served its life, it’s possible to remove the cleanable oil filter housing, screw it into the next marine application, and continue using the cleanable filter if it’s the same style engine.  The filters are that permanent.”
For ships that depend on 24/7 engine and diesel generator reliability during voyages that can last for weeks, there’s a further benefit from using the cleanable, reusable filters: greater self-reliance and simplified inventory.
“In the marine market, FTG cleanable filters will help fleets become more self-sufficient,” said Story.  “Fleets won’t be at the mercy of filter availability.  They won’t be reliant on third parties to provide new filters or dispose of costly used filter waste, which takes up extra space onboard.  Inventory will be streamlined as well.”
Pat Vuoso said the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are also beginning to look to cleanable, reusable filters for an environmental and economic advantage, in place of traditional, disposable ones.
As Vice President of Parts and Logistics at HD Industries, a Long Beach, Calif.-based factory authorized full service dealer, and division of Harbor Diesel and Equipment, Inc., Vuoso had business contacts at Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach stevedoring terminals approach him.  They requested reusable, cleanable air filters in place of disposable ones for use in cargo cranes.
“FTG was able to manufacture replacements for the port cranes’ existing OEM air filters that matched all specs and passed all tests,” said Vuoso.  FTG, which is MBE & ISO 9001:2008 certified, can design and manufacture cleanable, reusable filters in wide variety of shapes and sizes, including pleat depths from 1/4” to 4” and lengths of 40”.  “My port contacts are quite happy with the result.  As word has gotten out that there’s a cost-effective alternative to disposable air filters, other port terminals are asking about cleanable, reusable filters, and the technology is spreading to other terminals.”
“Everyone is looking for alternatives to disposable filters because of rising disposal cost and environmental scrutiny,” said Vuoso.  “Everywhere there’s a disposable marine filter application, cleanable, reusable filtration should be considered as an option.”  Reusable, cleanable filters can be designed and used for any liquid filtration in any application.

About the Author
Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, California. Tel: 800-734-1988; E: [email protected]


(As published in the May 2013 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News -

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 58,  May 2013

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