6 Global Trends Driving Filtration and Separation Technology Innovation

filtration and separation

This guest blog by Molly Henry of the American Filtration and Separations Society (AFS), appeared on their site (with my editorial assistance). For those who missed the original, I thought it was information worth sharing again here (in edited form) regarding the global filtration market.

As our population grows and urbanizes, so does our need for clean energy, pure water, increased food supplies, advanced medical care, and improved digital devices and processing power. Filtration and separation suppliers, as an enabling technology to most industries, must continually evolve to increase capacity and improve filtration performance. This blog examines the trends necessitating innovation. 

Population growth will drive demand, which will require increased production and manufacturing efficiency for industrial products, foods and beverages, transportation, and infrastructure. All of which means a greater need for filtration and separation technology.

Rapid urbanization on a global scale requires new and improved infrastructure, including water, power, communications and transportation; all of which require filtration.

Disruptive digital technology changes have dramatically improved computer processing for several decades, and trends call for this to continue. As computer circuits have grown smaller and smaller while increasing in processing power, filtration and separation technologies have also become increasingly more sophisticated.

Natural resource scarcity and climate change will make it increasingly difficult to supply an ever-growing population with clean water. This will drive greater use of desalination technologies. Recycling and reusing of wastewater on a consumer, commercial and industrial scale will become the norm. Filtration and separation technology make all these processes possible.

Transformative advances in healthcare will allow people to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. A part of this process will be advances in diagnostic and drug therapies, which utilize filtration and separation technologies. At the same time, a focus on a cleaner environment and all natural and pure consumables, will see more industries utilizing filtration and separation rather than chemical technologies to make products safe and pure.

The race to zero emissions and zero discharge for industrial manufacturing, public utilities, automotive and aerospace will be a technology challenge on many fronts. Filtration and separation are among the major enabling technologies for this purify, recycle, and reuse process.

Whatever role you play, keeping an eye on these megatrends will serve you and your constituents well in the quest for long-term growth and value creation in the global filtration market. 

 

The Business of Breathing

process engineer Charlotte
Photo credit: Sole Treadmill via Foter.com / CC BY

As loyal readers already know, I sometimes mention my yoga practice, which includes headstands, shoulder stands, tripod stands, etc. It helps give me a break from non stop work and travel. The  important component of yoga I want to discuss today is the breathing.

Yoga involves controlled breathing, while the high-risk world of freediving involves holding your breath — these are two different ends of the spectrum with benefits for practitioners of either (or both). BusinessWeek discussed the need for conscious breathing in two 2017 articles.

Patrick Scott, in his June 19, 2017 article “Free Falling,” connects diving and holding one’s breath to a feeling of euphoria unlike any other. Freedivers talk about how the mind and body are altered. Surface cares dissolve — replaced by a profound immersion in the present.

The Guinness World Record for holding one’s breath underwater is 24 minutes and 3 seconds. However, most freedivers plan for 3 – 5 breathless minutes. The key is to relax and override the urge to breathe underwater by learning to embody the energy the flows throughout the universe.

Controlled breathing in Yoga

In yoga, there are many types of breathing all of which focus on the individual. One is Ujjayi breathing. This “victorious breath” has a balancing influence on the entire cardiorespiratory system, releases feelings of irritation and frustration, and helps calm the mind and body. With Ujjayi, there are many benefits:

  • Increases the amount of oxygen in the blood
  • Builds internal body heat
  • Relieves tension and regulates blood pressure
  • Builds energy
  • Detoxifies mind and body

Another yoga breathing exercise is Sitali (or Sitkari) Pranayama, which literally means “to extend the vital life force.” There are three practices:

  • Gentle “extended exhale” breathing
  • Cooling breath
  • Long exhale

A third type is Breath of Fire. You’ll breathe 2-3 times/second through the mouth and up to 120 -180 times/minute.

Lastly, there is alternative nostril breathing. In this case, breathing through the left nostril is calming and breathing through the right nostril has an energizing effect.

Take a Deep Breath by Jennifer Miller outlines five classes explaining the art of inhaling. After all, whether you breathe deeply or hold your breath, the right breath technique can lead to “physical and emotional release.” In the non stop work environment today — pressured to perform, to innovate, to respond, to deliver, to compete — it’s not a bad idea to take a breath and find the right path with intention.

Get Out There and Learn!

Genchi Genbutsu
Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Foter.com / CC BY

Years ago, when I was an MBA candidate at the University of Illinois, we were introduced to the MBWA (Management By Walking Around) principle. In Japan, the principle is known as “Genchi Genbutsu.” Toyota, in particular, is known for this “actual place, actual thing” philosophy. Ultimately, in all aspects of engineering — from operational efficiency to process development to system dynamics — this “go and see for yourself” approach is worthy of discussion. No matter how good the information may seem to be, firsthand knowledge is fundamental.

My experience is as a technology supplier, but this action-oriented principle equally applies to the production and processes of our clients. For example, we have a pharmaceutical client that moved from batch processing to continuous processing with BHS technology. The process engineer may be satisfied that the client’s goals and objectives were achieved. However, we insist the next step is to “go see ourselves” and observe the operation. What are the machine efficiencies? Is the design easy to operate and maintain? What is the operator mindset?

In another case, involving a commercial scale-up of a new chemical process, we must know the catalyst; how the scale-up is planned…step-by-step or full in; sequential or parallel technologies…vacuum or pressure; options and costs; and finally value-engineering. The best way for BHS to meet the scale-up needs is to follow the approach of “seeing for ourselves.”

Always be Learning

In looking to always be learning how to best serve customer needs, we also incorporate Jay Forrester’s system dynamics. This technique of feedback and impacts considers questions such as: How does the competition react? What are the consequences — intended or unintended?

Although system dynamics had its beginnings in the physical realm, this method of thinking has moved to areas such as leadership, operational structure, interactions of variables and making decisions for how things are changing for the future. This is easily applied to chemical engineering where “gifted all-arounders” are preferred in a world of increasing complexity.

This idea of Genchi Genbutsu, exploring a system fully, aiming to truly understand the actual thing functioning in the actual place can greatly impact learning. It poses interesting questions too: How would a car company make pills? How would a chemical company make water bottles? How does a CEO of an airplane company succeed in begin a CEO of a car company? And so on.

Learning in one field can become applicable to others. This blog invites readers and followers to share experiences and improve engineering and innovation processes. Let’s keep this conversation going.

Cruising Into a Future with LNG

liquified natural gas
Image source: Travel Weekly

In mid-April, I attended GasTech 2017 in Tokyo. The focus of GasTech was Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and its impact on the world’s energy balance, carbon emissions, and technology. Now, I didn’t take a cruise ship all of the way from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Japan, but there are some interesting overlaps between LNG and cruising.

Why Liquefied Natural Gas

First, we need to understand LNG and its growing market share.

LNG is an odorless, colorless and non-corrosive natural gas that has been converted to liquid form for ease of storage or transport. It takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state (cruise ship stewards likely wish human luggage could take up 1/600th the volume too!).

The liquefaction process involves removal of certain components, such as dust, acid gases, water and heavy hydrocarbons. The natural gas is then condensed into a liquid at close to atmospheric pressure by cooling it to approximately −162 °C (−260 °F); maximum transport pressure is set at around 25 kPa (4 psi).

LNG is principally used for transporting natural gas to markets, where it is regasified and distributed as pipeline natural gas. LNG is expected to hit 10% of the global crude production by 2020.

Yet LNG is also being used to power ships worldwide. There are 100 LNG-outfitted ships today with another 72 LNG-ready and another 100 in manufacturing. This growth reflects a demand for energy efficiency and new international rules on sulfur content of fuel.

Smooth Sailing for LNG Ships

The primary use for LNG ships today is car and passenger ferries. Cargo ships rank second, and now the cruise industry is getting into the action with 11 ships already on order. According to Travel Weekly, Lloyd’s Register predicts “there will be 653 LNG-powered ships of all types built between 2012 and 2025, including 25 cruise ships.”
Soon you’ll be able to cruise to the islands with more efficiency. Talk about a win-win proposition! Although a trip to Tokyo would be worth taking, even without the cruise experience – I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the trip in a future blog (along with some photos).

In the meantime, GasTech was a great learning opportunity. I enjoyed discussions of LNG technology, gas transmissions and pipelines, infrastructure to use LNG as well as operator training. Check out the website, http://www.gastechnews.com/. The conference, once again, showed how the world is tied together for energy and environmental issues. Let me know your ideas and LNG questions.

Travel, Present and Learn. Join me.

I was in Singapore in October for the Gastech Singapore 2015 for a very interesting week learning about many things, including LNG engineering.

Celebrating 50 years as an independent nation, Singapore has been ranked the number one country for “ease of doing business” for the past nine years by the World Bank. Singapore is very cosmopolitan; you can see different types of people living harmoniously and easily interacting with each other. My trip included some wonderful sights such as the “Gardens by the Bay” and the Arts & Science Museum’s “Welcoming Hand.” I appreciated these both as engineering marvels considering environmental / sustainable objectives. And, yes, I also appreciated the excellent food with a diversity of choices including Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, Thai and, of course, the ever-present “fusion” which can mean whatever you like.

LNG engineering
The Garden at the Bay showcases energy efficient, sustainable building technologies .Photo credit: Craig Stanfill / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Gastech Conference Benefits

The cosmopolitan diversity of Singapore was also evident at the Gas-tech conference. There were exhibitors and attendees from around the world including the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Norway, and the US. In fact, the Black & Veatch booth was streaming live the World Series baseball match-up of the KC Royals and the NY Mets. Unfortunately, my beloved Mets did not win.

Technical conference sessions focused on gas processing, LNG engineering (as well as processing, floating, ships, facilities and infrastructure), natural gas vehicles, and offshore technologies. I learned LNG is about to enter a period of unprecedented growth with significant volumes of new supply about to enter the market. The estimated investment is over $2.5 trillion through 2025. Currently, there are over 400 LNG ships worldwide. The initial exports from the US should be in 2106 from the Sabine Pass facility in the Gulf Coast.

I presented in the Center of Technical Excellence (CoTES) a paper titled, Perlmutter Presentation at GasTech Singapore 2015 (pdf) The session was attended well, and I enjoyed fielding some interesting questions and comments. I was particularly proud to see this presentation was the only filtration one at Gastech — that’s a nice accomplishment for BHS.

LNG engineering
Singapore’s “Welcoming Hand” incorporates solar panels and recycles rainwater.
Photo credit: Leonid Yaitskiy / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Why International Conferences Matter

Did I have fun? Yes. Did I learn? Yes. Did I expand my professional network? Yes. I can only continue to encourage all of my clients, friends, and colleagues to travel to international conferences such as Gastech to experience both the cultural and technical benefits of joining the worldwide process engineer community.

If you are planning to travel or submit to conferences, let me know your how I can help! Perhaps we can meet up at an international destination to discuss our shared interests, this blog and more!