Influence of the filtration velocity on the local oil distribution of oleophilic coalescence filter media
C. Straube, J. Meyer, A. Dittler
Separations 2023, 10, 254, https://doi.org/10.3390/separations10040254 (open access)
Fibrous nonwoven coalescence filters are commonly utilized in gas-cleaning processes to separate liquid droplets from a gas stream, e.g., oil mists. These filters are mainly composed of micro glass fibers and in some cases, small amounts of synthetic fibers. The shape of the deposited oil on filter fibers of the filter media depends on several factors, including the oil saturation, wettability, roughness, diameter of the fibers and fiber arrangement. The oil deposits can take the form of, e.g., axially symmetric barrel-shaped droplets or larger structures, such as oil sails between adjacent fibers. Understanding the initial state of the coalescence filtration process and the impact of the deposited oil structures on the separation efficiency requires characterizing these structures. X-ray microtomography (μ-CT) and artificial intelligence tools for segmentation can be utilized to visualize, identify and analyze deposited oil structures in the micrometer region. To quantify and compare oil structures formed at three distinct filtration velocities (10, 25 and 40 cm s-1) commonly utilized in industrial applications and one defined oil saturation of oleophilic coalescence filter media, applying X-ray microtomography is the main emphasis of this work. The results indicate that there is no significant influence of the filtration velocity on the local saturation (determined via μ-CT), the number- and volume-based fractions of the identified deposited oil structures on or between adjacent fibers as well as the droplet concentrations and distributions of deposited oil droplets. It is assumed that the structure of the deposited oil formed by coalescence in the filter medium is dominated by the wetting properties of the fibers (surface tension and surface energy) and the saturation, independent of the filtration velocity.