What's new in oil filters? Longer drains, more soot drive design.
The current challenge for filter manufacturers is to find a balance between efficiency (catching the tiniest of particles) and capacity (filter life). In other words, giving customers the best of both worlds.
In recent years, the industry standard has moved from cellulose (paper) to blended filters, which can be made from a combination of cellulose, synthetic, and/or fiberglass media. The primary factors driving this change are stricter engine-emissions requirements and longer oil-drain intervals. Filter makers have been pushed to develop products that will keep smaller and smaller particles from getting into the oil, while at the same time lasting long enough to make them cost-efficient.
Extending service intervals A number of filter makers have developed products specifically to meet demands for extended service intervals. For example, Donaldson offers its Endurance line of products, which are made with a synthetic media called Synteq. Fleetguard/Nelson offers a new product line called Venturi Combo, also designed to support extended service intervals.
All-synthetic media has also been used to develop Mobil Delvac Extended Life Filters, which are manufactured by Luber-Finer/Champion Laboratories. The filters are said to allow longhaul trucks to run as much as 60,000 miles between filter changes when used with Mobil Delvac 1 synthetic oil.
AlliedSignal/Fram says that it has been able to work with existing technologies to produce midrange extended-drain products (moving from 25,000 or 30,000 miles up to 40,000 or 45,000) for customers with specific needs. By increasing pleat counts and reconfiguring internal components, drain intervals have been extended on cellulose and cellulose blend filters.
Filter makers generally advise fleets to follow recommendations of engine OEMs when determining when to change filters. Appropriate intervals, however, will differ from fleet to fleet, depending on oil analysis, fuel economy, load factors, and operating environment.
According to Donaldson, after using restriction gauges to determine when their oil filters actually reached maximum restriction, several fleets found they could safely double or even triple the recommended intervals.
Since engine makers usually factor in the most extreme operating conditions an engine will be subjected to when determining safe drain intervals, Baldwin Filters says that extended intervals may be appropriate, given the right operating conditions. But due to more stringent EPA engine-emissions restrictions, this practice may not be the option it is today.
In any case, Baldwin cautions that extreme care should be used when making the decision to extend these intervals. Initial savings can quickly disappear if an engine fails due to "lack of proper protection."
Recycling made easy Getting rid of used oil filters can be a sticky issue if state regulations prohibit you from sending them to the local landfill. But recycling spin-on filters doesn't have to be a complicated process. The Filter Manufacturers Council (FMC) has set up a toll-free number (800-99-FILTER) for information on individual state requirements, as well as a list of recyclers. You can also find a link to FMC from the MEMA Web site (www. mema.org).
Another solution is to go through your filter maker. For example, both Baldwin and Wix have contracts with American Resource Recovery (ARR) that make it easier for fleets using their products to recycle used filters.
Here's how it works. According to Wix, for a one-time setup fee (about $45) and pickup costs of $65/barrel for crushed or uncrushed filters, ARR will come to your fleet to pick up the used filters.
An alternative to oil filters that have to be recycled are those that can be cleaned and reused. For example, Fleetguard/Nelson offers EcoClean, a direct fit, in-place cleanable filter that is said to virtually eliminate the costs associated with filter disposal.
More than one filter maker mentioned some form of bypass filtration as a potential solution to the problem of higher soot levels that may result from stricter emissions regs. As AlliedSignal puts it, "We may see a 'back to the future' scenario" in the filter industry. Only time will tell.