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Filter elements are rated by particular micron sizes, which describes the smallest size of the particles they are able to remove. But filter elements with the same micron rating can have very different efficiencies, depending on the types of media they’re constructed from.
When choosing the proper filter solution, it’s important to understand how different types of media impacts a filter’s performance. Filters are rated by two types of efficiency ratings, nominal and absolute. Nominal ratings refer to a degree of filtration by the weight of solid particles. However, filters rated as nominal efficiency have no maximum pore size, meaning that they can still allow unwanted larger particles to pass through and potentially damage parts of the system. Media with absolute ratings have uniform pore size, and derive their value from the largest size particle that can pass through its pores.
Sourced mainly from wood pulp and cotton, cellulose is a widely used media type for industrial applications. Due to a lack of uniform pore size and effectiveness of organic cellulose fibers, cellulose filters are susceptible to degradation and structural manipulation with increasing fluid temperatures. They are therefore awarded nominal efficiency ratings, since they may allow unwanted particles to pass through and contaminate the system.
On the other hand, inorganic glass media fibers are more uniform in diameter, and smaller than cellulose fibers. That means they are able to capture and retain more particles than cellulose. As a result of their effectiveness and predictability, glass filter elements are given absolute efficiency ratings and are considered a high quality alternative to cellulose.
When upgrading your hydraulic oil filters from cellulose to glass media elements, the cleanliness of the system must be stabilized. During this phase, the life of a glass element may be temporarily shortened as it works to bring ISO cleanliness codes into a target range by removing accumulated fine particles that passed into the system via previous cellulose filters. However, once the system is clean, glass elements may last 4-5 times longer than the cellulose element it replaced.