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BERLIN – Oerlikon Nonwoven was honoured at last week's Filtrex conference, winning the coveted Filtrex Innovation Award for its HycuTEC inline charging technology.

Around 100 filtration media professionals gathered in Berlin for the two-day conference on topics relating to filtration. The programme addressed issues from sustainability to testing and standardisation, as well as providing inspiring insights on future trends in the health and the automotive industries.

The Filtrex Innovation Award, the only award that recognizes innovation in the filtration industry, was chosen by participants from four shortlisted nominations. With HycuTEC receiving over one third of the votes, Dr Ingo Mählmann, vice president of Sales & Marketing, along with his colleague Ralph Berkemann, Senior Manager Application – both from Oerlikon Nonwoven – were on site to accept the prize. “This is really a great honour,” said Dr Mählmann on receiving the award. “We invested a lot of work in the development of this equipment to more efficiently produce filter media. So we are really proud as it was only released at the beginning of this year and it’s already being recognized by the industry.”

HycuTEC is described as the market’s first industrially-manufactured hydro-charging solution that can also be seamlessly integrated into the production process. It is also easily retrofitted to existing systems as a plug & produce component – a first within the market. This new technology for charging nonwovens is also said to enable the filter efficiency to be increased to more than 99.99%, which, as a result, provides meltblown producers with considerable material savings along with a greater filtration performance.

Whereas classical hydro-charging processes charge the finished nonwoven material the hycuTEC concept is based on the all-round charging of each filament. Through controlled atomization, a charge is evenly transferred to the fibres from the water spray. And a special additive is used to permanently bond the charge to the surface of each fibre. The result is filter media with a uniformly stable charge over the entire cross-section and an effective fibre surface area about 10 times greater than that of surface-charged media.

hycuTEC hydro-charging can therefore reduce the pressure loss in typical FFP2 filter media to less than a quarter. Filtration efficiencies of more than 99.99% are easily achieved in typical filter media of 35 g/m² at 35 Pa, the company says, citing tests at pilot customers manufacturing FFP2 face masks who report confirmed quality increases due to the improved filtration with a simultaneous reduction in material usage of 30%.

For end users, the consequence is noticeably improved comfort resulting from significantly reduced breathing resistance.

"The innovation award was a big success this time, because we had more submissions than in previous years, with innovations very relevant for our industry,” said Marines Lagemaat, Scientific and Technical Affairs Director at EDANA, adding that the jury members remarked on the high quality of submissions this year. Lagemaat also received positive feedback from many participants appreciating the content and the discussions that took place during the conference itself.

At the conference, the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies provided a keynote presentation on a proposed move from curative to preventive healthcare. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic consumers today are increasingly aware of the quality of the air we breathe, which has a key impact on our health. As such filtration will only continue to grow in importance, as society looks to improve living and working conditions to ensure healthy lifestyles. Several of the speakers addressed this by showcasing product developments in filter media that can be used in domestic and institutional buildings’ filtration systems.

Euromonitor gave the keynote on the second day, which addressed the rate of transition to electrically powered vehicles. This is extremely relevant for the filter media industry, given the different nature of filters used in traditional combustion engines versus electrical ones. Despite many challenges that slowed down the roll-out of electric vehicles, such as cost and infrastructure for charging, a recent Euromonitor study predicts that by 2031, 50% of new passenger car registrations globally will be electric.

“It’s very nice to have people from different countries and fields here. I think it’s a great possibility to exchange and have further perspectives for the future, and to get a lot of information and have the possibility to talk face to face,” said Bernadette Führer, Senior Scientist, at OFI Technology & Innovation, and also a speaker at the conference.

Fellow speaker Helen Woodworth, Business Manager Consumer Filtration Europe, at Freudenberg Filtration Technologies, who attended Filtrex for the first time “found it very good for meeting people [within the industry]. Very knowledgeable speakers and topics were included [in the programme] so it’s been quite interesting to hear different aspects and different innovations.”

For Joshua Manasco, Director of Application and Business Development at Elmarco the added value of attending Filtrex was the intimate setting: “I think some of the bigger conferences you don’t get such an opportunity to really meet and talk to [delegates]. I think the quality of the presentations and attendance is really high compared to some of the other conferences I’ve gone to, the right type of people are here to do the networking.”

Filtrex takes place bi-annually, with the next edition scheduled for 2024. Filtrex’s sister conference Filtrex Asia will be run online next month on 1-2 December 2022. More information on how to register and the programme are available here. The programme for Filtrex 2022 can be accessed here.


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