Great Lakes Filters

Matt Utley, for Great Lakes Filters, explains, “We’ve been a pioneer in the filtration business since 1951, creating some of the industry’s most recognized products.” Great Lakes Filters, acquired by Acme Mills in 1974, offers a complete line of comprehensive filtration products and solutions.

Catering to countless industries, including chemical, pharmaceutical, automotive, and municipal water treatment, Great Lakes invented filters and filtration techniques that are now commonplace in the industry. Their filter bag is one such big innovation. “We pioneered those way back when,” says Utley as he provided a rundown of the filtration industry, dating back to the 1950s when filtration was done with woven materials. Then non-woven materials entered the industry. Non-wovens were less expensive and captured most of the filtration market.

Now, Great Lakes Filters is embarking on a new innovation destined to change the face of the market once again. “Great Lakes Filters was at the forefront and is going to be at the forefront of the nanofiber filtration market,” Utley says. “Nanofiltration technology will eclipse everything that non-woven filter media has been.”

The need for a new media and the desire for the nanofiber media, specifically, comes down to the basic fundamentals of filtration, according to Utley. The dilemma in filtration is: as the efficiency of the filter increases, the pressure drop or restrictiveness of the filter also increases. “This has been the rule of filters since the beginning,” he says. Now, our unique nanofiber filtration media reduces pressure drops dramatically while increasing filter efficiencies. This new media can filter particles down to 10 nanometers (1,000th of a micron) at efficiencies of 99.99%.

In applications that do not require ultra-fine particulate removal, the advantage becomes lower pressure drops. Substantially less restrictive media has ramifications seen throughout the process. Energy savings and longer filter life are two of the main benefits. “This really represents a spike in the technology of filtration,” Utley says, “It’s very similar to what we saw when going from wovens to non-wovens.”

Stephen Couchman adds, “We will initially offer six grades of filtration: three for air and three for water. These filtration grades will be able to capture 80% of straight filtration applications in the market, while maintaining the ability to develop custom applications when needed.” Couchman reiterated that this is a starting point for Great Lakes—“We start with better media and proceed in improving a number of applications.”

Great Lakes also performs comprehensive plant surveys and assists facilities initiating and managing their wastewater treatment programs. The goal is to save millions of gallons of water, resulting in saving our natural resources while adding to their bottom line profit. Utley explains that Great Lakes Filters is currently collaborating with a customer’s plant in developing a plan to reduce their wastewater by 75%.

Some of the major contributors of manufacturing waste streams are aqueous parts washers. As the wash water gets solubilized, meaning the chemistry of the water is no longer able to bring in any more oil, the water’s usefulness is exhausted and carried off to the facility’s wastewater treatment program. Great Lakes Filters has strategies for decentralizing the treatment of waste water.

The water is more difficult to process once it gets to the central processing tank of a wastewater treatment plant. “If we can reduce the amount of waste going there,” Utley says, “We can reduce the operational cost of the treating the waste.”

Typically, a safety or septic team will come out and pump a facility for approximately $.15 a gallon. Great Lakes has developed a method of processing on site for about half a cent a gallon and then reuse the water in their system. The result is green for everyone—both for the environment and the wallet. To complete the job, Great Lakes offers a skid-mounted, turnkey system with a small footprint of five feet by eight feet that sells for under $20,000.

Great Lakes Filter has developed a solid reputation as filtration experts and are often consulted by filter manufacturers to evaluate their products before they hit the market. Furthermore, Great Lakes Filters’ keeps an open dialogue with their customers to keep them abreast of the latest developments in filtration technology. The nanofiber media is the most recent to add to the list and another one that will change the face of the filtration industry.

Story by Megan McClure

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