Aging with perfection in filtration technology

Aging with perfection in filtration technology

10:53 AM, 18th July 2018
Barry Perlmutter, President and Managing Director, BHS-Sonthofen Inc.
Barry Perlmutter, President and Managing Director, BHS-Sonthofen Inc.

In an interview, Barry Perlmutter, President and Managing Director, BHS-Sonthofen Inc with Chemical Today Magazine envisages the need for filtration and separation equipment manufacturers to keep in sync with the end user industries’ speed of innovation, to bag opportunities to the fullest.

By Shivani Mody

Global trends in filtration & separation equipment market.

As the world’s population grows, there is a need for cleaner energy, improved water & food and advanced health care. Natural resource scarcity will drive biochemical feedstocks away from petroleum-based chemicals and new ideas for recycling and reuse of water.

Advances in healthcare and pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals will allow people to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. In the environmental area, zero emissions and zero liquid discharge will be the standards. Finally, the one overall, high-level view is sustainability and green technologies.

Filtration and separation technology suppliers must continually improve their products to meet these needs. The trends in the filtration market space are two-fold: moving towards continuous filtration (which is more efficient) as well as moving towards finer and finer particle size removal. Hence, the future looks promising for the chemical and pharmaceutical equipment industry.

Sectors with increased demand for filtration & separation products.

Based upon the trends, one of the major segments with high demand for filtration and separation products would be pharmaceuticals with smaller batches, cleanability and multipurpose operations. For increased food supply, we see growth in the agrochemical market including fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. Cleaner water is driving the specialty chemicals for resins and catalysts.

Finally, the move away from petroleum based products has seen the growth in alternative feedstocks such as cellulose, lignin, algae, bagasse, straw etc.

Industry demands from filtration & separation products.

The chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers are adapting to more multipurpose facilities. The filtration and separation equipment must be cleanable and avoid cross-contamination between products. Batch sizes are also smaller as manufacturers are meeting more targeted needs from the market. The trend is towards the use of equipment, which can safely and reliably process high-quality substances. The demands are for finer filtration and separation to 0.5 microns as well as automatic operation for safety, efficiency etc.

Market potential in developed and emerging markets.

The needs of developed and emerging markets are very different. In the developed markets, the potential is in the smaller batch sizes targeted to more specific consumer and industrial requirements.

In the emerging markets, we see larger production requirements to meet bulk pharmaceutical and antibiotics as well as large-scale basic chemicals, fertilizers etc. The market potential in the emerging markets is about 20 percent higher than the developed market.

The emerging markets require larger capacity filtration and separation due to the population growth and the need for clean water and improved agriculture and food production. Therefore, in terms of potential, emerging markets would have greater potential. However, regardless of the market or geographic area, the BHS products will meet the high-quality standards that are the core values of our business.

Adopting automation for the industry.

Automation technology is one of the most important aspects for customers today. It is critical for filtration and separation products for preventative maintenance, efficient operation, mechanical troubleshooting and process analysis. By applying improved automation technology, it greatly reduces the energy usage and improves accuracy and precision to the overall process. The BHS technologies have various operations and ancillary equipment such as PLC control systems, vacuum pumps, liquid transfer pumps, VFD-motors, heating and cooling systems, gas and liquid recirculation systems and filtration, washing and drying operations.

Automation provides for optimum operations, time monitoring systems, report generation and recipe management.

Further, BHS can operate via pressure or vacuum, which requires PLC control systems or via the plant distributed control system (DCS). Viewing process trends allows for remote processes troubleshooting and hence automation technology is an integral part. Finally, automation plays an important role when it comes to these complex processes and multipurpose operations.

Business overview in Asia Pacific.

Currently, the growth Asia-Pacific market is dominated by aromatic acids and need for fibers for textiles and PET for liquid containers. We see growth in bulk pharmaceutical and basic chemicals. This growth is driven by population growth and increase for food production and higher standards of living. We are also seeing the need for sustainability is these areas and better use of raw materials - for example, in palm oil production. Most growth comparisons show that Asia-Pacific is growing more than North America and Europe but less than the Middle East and Latin America. The market potential is influenced by many external factors and BHS watches all of these carefully to be able to focus our resources on the clients and to quickly meet the needs of the clients.

For example, fast deliveries, cost-effective approaches, laboratory and analysis are important in these areas.

Incorporating R&D to meet market demands.

The BHS technologies are for pressure and vacuum filtration, cake washing anddrying for batch and continuous operation for high solids slurries (up to 60 percent) down to clarification for slurries less than 1 percent to trace ppm amounts. The variety of product technologies allows BHS to meet the demands of the market. For the pharma market, we are focusing on CIP/SIP operations and have developed continuous filtration technologies for reproducibility and validation. In the biochemical market, the BHS technologies are producing from various feed stocks such as cellulose, lignin, straw, wheat, bagasse, wood chips and algae.

In the agricultural chemical market, the continuous filtration technologies have full containment, cleanability and eliminate operator exposure to harmful solids and liquids. BHS has also installed systems on offshore platforms with increased reliability compared to centrifuges and filter presses.

Finally, we are working with clients to combine technologies for full turnkey responsibility to minimize lifecycle costs and reducing operating costs. So, overall, we are focused on innovation, automation, continuous processing, cleanability and overall reliability to 99 percent uptime. We strive to provide complete process solutions with spare parts, service and continually to improve the client’s operation.

Insight into lab activities for pilot plant equipment business.

BHS has small scale laboratory test units, called Pocket Leaf Filters (PLF), ranging from 400 ml to 1000 ml. The PLF unit is rated from 90 psig/FV and jacketed to 150 degrees C. The PLF testing provides the information for pressure or vacuum filtration, cake thickness, filter media, cycle times for filtration, cake washing and drying, process quality specifications, scale-up to production size and finally for the BHS process guarantees. After the PLF testing, pilot plant testing is conducted and BHS provides filtration test units for the complete range of the technologies.

The test units are explosion proof and contained for solvent applications. Testing provides the collaboration with the client to provide innovative and cost-effective process solutions.

Challenges faced in the filtration & separation market.

As we look at the market, there is one common theme, which is “speed.” Speed of innovation is impacting our clients who are developing new processes very quickly using micro-reactors, new chemistry and new products to meet the needs of the growing world population. The speed at which the filtration and separation suppliers must operate to meet the clients is even faster. BHS has put into place teams of engineers, technical marketing experts and local talent to understand the speed of the market requirements and meet these client’s objectives. Successful companies must fulfill this “speed” objective without sacrificing any core values of safety, efficiency, quality and service. BHS has its roots from 1607 in the iron ore and salts mines and with over 65 years of filtration experience.

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