The main objective of hydraulic filters is to extend machine life by removing contaminants from the oil.
Hydraulic filter location plays a significant role in the effective performance of a system. The wrong choice location can reduce the service life of the system. There are many locations to be considered. Let us now check out the various hydraulic filter locations:
Pressure Filter or Pressure Filtration
A pressure filter is used sometimes at the pump outlet to prevent entry of contaminants generated in the pump, into other components like valves, etc. and thus help in avoiding the spread of such undesirable elements into the whole system. This will thus protect valves, cylinders etc.
The main advantage of location filter in the pressure line is that it provides maximum protection for components located immediately downstream. Here, there is a possibility of filtration rates of 2 microns or less. But the efficiency of the filter can be reduced by the presence of high flow velocities and pressure.
The major disadvantage of pressure filtration is that it is expensive compare to other filtration location, it has the highest initial and ongoing cost, because the housings and elements must be designed to bear peak system pressure.
Return Line or Return Filtration
Here the fluid cleanliness can be maintained only when the reservoir and the fluid it contains start out clean, and all air entering the reservoir and returning fluid is properly filtered. There is another advantage of this filter location: sufficient pressure is available to force fluid through fine media. There is no complications in filter or housing design because pressure is not high enough. This, combined with relatively low flow velocity, provides a high degree of filtering efficiency at a cost-effective rate.
Return filtration is the most acceptable feature of hydraulic systems. The main disadvantage is that the back pressure formed by the element can adversely affect the operation of or damage some components.
Off-line filtration leads to continuous, multi-pass filtration at a flow velocity and pressure drop which is controlled in a proper way , leading to high filtering efficiency. Filtration rates of 2 microns or less are possible. The main advantage is that polymeric filters and heat exchangers can be used in the circuit for total fluid conditioning. The main disadvantage is its high initial cost.
Also known as intake filter, it is fitted before the pump so that it can prevent random entry of large and other contaminants like large chips into the pump and thus preventing damage to it.
This is an ideal location for filtering media. Filter efficiency is increased by the absence of both high fluid velocity and high pressure drop. High fluid velocity can disturb trapped particles and drop in high pressure can force migration of particles through the media.
Before I discuss this, let’s consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of common filter locations.
Locating filtering media in the pressure line provides maximum protection for components located immediately downstream. Filtration rates of two microns or less are possible, due to the positive pressure (in comparison to an intake line filter) available to force fluid through the media (in comparison to an intake line filter). Filter efficiency may be reduced by the presence of high flow velocities, and pressure and flow transients, which disturb trapped particles. The major disadvantage of pressure filtration is economic. Because the housings and elements (high-collapse type) must be designed to withstand system operating pressure, pressure filtration has the highest initial and ongoing cost.
The rationale for locating filtering media in the return line is this: if the reservoir, and the fluid it contains, start out clean and all air entering the reservoir and returning fluid is adequately filtered, then fluid cleanliness will be maintained. The other advantage of the return line as a filter location is that sufficient pressure is available to force fluid through fine media – typically 10 microns, but pressure is not high enough to complicate filter or housing design. This combined with relatively low flow velocity, means that a high degree of filtering efficiency can be achieved at an economical cost. For these reasons, return filtration is a feature of most hydraulic systems.
Off-line filtration enables continuous, multi-pass filtration at a controlled flow velocity and pressure drop, which results in high filtering efficiency. Filtration rates of two microns or less are possible, and water absorbent filters and heat exchangers can be included in the circuit for total fluid conditioning. Off-line filtration has a high initial cost, although this can often be justified on a life-of-machine cost basis.
Filter condition monitoring
Warning of filter-bypass is typically afforded by visual or electric clogging-indicators. These devices indicate when pressure drop (delta P) across the element is approaching the opening pressure of the bypass valve (where fitted). In the case of a return filter for example, if the bypass valve opens at a delta P of 3 Bar, the clogging indicator will typically switch at 2 Bar.
Advanced filter condition monitoring
Replacing standard clogging-indicators with differential pressure gauges or transducers enables continuous, condition monitoring of the filter element. This permits trending of fluid cleanliness against filter element pressure-drop, which may be used to optimize oil sample and filter change intervals. For example, the optimal change for a return filter in a particular system could be higher or lower than the clogging indicator switching pressure of 2 Bar.
Continuous monitoring of filter pressure drop can also provide early warning of component failures and element rupture. For example, if the delta P across a pressure filter suddenly increased from 1 to 3 Bar (all other things equal), this could be an indication of an imminent failure of a component upstream. Similarly, a sudden decrease in delta P could indicate a rupture in the element – something that a standard clogging indicator will not warn of.