Fluid Flow Control - Automotive

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Filter (Oil)

Many items requiring lubrication by petroleum products need the lubricant to be especially clean. The oil filter is a device used for this purpose, particularly in automotive and other applications for internal combustion engines. Early automobiles did not have any way of filtering oil. For this reason, along with the low standards to which lubricating oil was generally refined in the era, very frequent oil changes, of the order of every 500 miles (800km) or 1000 miles (1600 km) were often specified for early vehicles. As automotive technology advanced, the first oil filtration devices were developed, becoming widespread by the late 1920s. Early automotive oil filters were largely of the cartridge type, generally consisting of a pleated paper element, surrounded by a metal canister perforated with many holes inside a sheet metal housing. Cartridge-type oil filters were a considerable advance over the previous practice, of the oil going unfiltered through the engine but were still only partially effective, in that much of the oil bypassed the filter, which was located on an entirely separate oil line and, hence, went unfiltered. By the 1950s, the 'spin-on' on or 'full flow' filter had become widespread. This device attached directly to the side of the engine block, by a threaded fittting and was positioned so that all of the engine's oil capacity eventually had to pass through it, during the course of normal operation. This type of filter is now used almost exclusively, in modern passenger cars and, in recent years, has gained in use, even in heavy-duty uses such as large truck engines. Oil quality and filtering capabilities have now advanced so far that some manufacturers such as Mobile sell engine oils that claim to have up to a 15,000 mile change interval. Spin-on filters incorporate a pressure relief valve, if one is not already built into the engine. If the filter becomes completely blocked due to a lack of maintenance, the valve allows oil to bypass the filter, which protects the bearings from oil starvation (albeit using unfiltered oil, but this is better than none at all). The valve may also open in very cold conditions if a thick oil is used, which is one reason why multigrade oils with a low "winter" grade (e.g. 0W40) are useful. Major brands of oil filters available in the U.S. included Fram, Wix, AC (a General Motors brand) and Motorcraft (a Ford Motor Company brand).Oil filters are not limited to automobile use. Power generating stations use upwards of 40,000gallons of turbine lube oil to lubricate large bearings. Hydraulic lines are used in industry for many purposes. All of this oil needs to be filtered and the level of filtraion is much more stringent than that of standard automobile filtration. In these applications many times a resin impregnated glass fiber filtration media down to even 1um is used, whereas in automobile filtration it is always cellulose which has a micron rating of 50um or more. Industrial applications do not"change their oil" frequently as changing tens of thousands of gallons of oil @ $10 a gallon quickly adds up. This is why much higher quality filters are usually used. Subsequenty the cost for an industrial grade oil filter can be anywhere from $50 to $1000 (depending on size). You can not purchase an industrial grade filter and expect it to fit on your car, as these filters are sometimes 6" in diameter and upwards of 60" long. Nor would you want to as automobile filtration you are worried about the additives package breaking down, more so than particles. Major players in industrial oil filtration are Pall, Donaldson, Parker, Kaydon, and Vickers. The industrial oil filtration market is full of retrofitted or will-fit filter elements. Every major manufacturer has a filter element that will fit in another manufacturers housing. Some manufacturers specialize in only retro-fitting other manufacturers filters elements, usually for 1/4 to 1/2 the cost.