Delving into the Full Lifecycle of Filtration and Separation - Interview with Sam He, General Manager of Feature-Tec (Shanghai) New Materials Co., Ltd.

2024-05-21

Filtration and separation are important technologies in industrial production, directly determining the quality of the final product. With the advancement of the industry, filtration and separation technologies are constantly innovating. Feature-Tec (Shanghai) New Materials Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Feature-Tec") has been engaged in the filtration and separation field for over 20 years, and it is an internationally renowned provider of filtration and separation solutions, integrating research and development, design, manufacturing, and validation. It has been involved in downstream industries such as automotive, new energy, and petrochemicals. What are the new trends in filtration and separation technology in the future? Which downstream niche markets does Feature-Tec see potential in? Recently, the general manager, Sam He, accepted an interview with "China Chemical Information Weekly".

 

【CCN】What fields does Feature-Tec's filtration and separation technology primarily serve? What are the fields with great future potential?

【Sam He】Feature-Tec has been engaged in industrial fluid filtration and separation technology for over 20 years, with a wide industry coverage. In the automotive and mechanical manufacturing fields, over 300 automotive production lines worldwide use Feature-Tec's filtration technology. We are also involved in various sectors of new energy, including wind power, nuclear power, lithium batteries, solar energy, metallurgy, mining, and marine engineering. Currently, our largest market lies in the petroleum, chemical, and natural gas sectors, covering oil and gas extraction, polyolefins and downstream polymers, fine chemicals, pharmaceutical intermediates, food additives, and more.

In the emerging industries of semiconductor and life sciences, there is much anticipation for filtration and separation. In recent years, Feature-Tec has also increased its efforts in these two areas.

 

 

【CCN] What are some new trends in filtration and separation technology, and how is the company responding to these trends?

[Sam He] There are two trends. Firstly, many enterprises are currently facing the dilemma of labor shortage, especially in finding talents willing to engage in chemical-related work. Therefore, future process designs must reduce labor intensity and increase automation levels. Moreover, in the chemical industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to cultivate and retain patient professional technicians. While every chemical plant requires maintenance such as filtration and separation, maintaining a professional team is not easy. This implies the need for more industrial fluid equipment 4S service stores to better conduct standardized maintenance of professional equipment and improve product interchangeability. This poses requirements for the standardization of filtration and separation.

The second trend is equipment miniaturization. The development pattern of large-scale chemical industry has basically reached its limit. From the perspective of enterprise operation, after fierce competition, although the entire market needs product quantity assurance, it needs product performance improvement even more. From a profit-driven perspective, product diversification is the trend of the future. In small and medium batch and multi-variety production modes, such as products with an annual output of 5000 tons or 10,000 tons, they can be achieved through micro-reactor systems or small and medium reactor systems, thereby shortening the entire reaction process, reducing the storage system, and making safety and operation maintenance simpler.

With the use of micro-reactor systems, many new technologies emerge, including smaller and more efficient filtration, heat exchange, and reaction systems. Firstly, a more efficient catalytic system means that traditional millimeter-scale catalysts will be replaced by larger surface area micrometer or even nanometer-scale catalysts, reducing usage and increasing reaction rates. However, the challenge lies in intercepting these catalysts and preventing them from "escaping," which raises filtration requirements.

At the same time, smaller reactant particle sizes in microchannel reactions also require higher filtration requirements. In addition, more sophisticated heat exchange systems are needed for micro-reactor systems, such as PCB-type heat exchangers, which also increase filtration requirements. We are a company dedicated to process research and innovation. When traditional processes compete in the saturated market, our opportunities arise.

The more fiercely competitive the market, the more it needs process innovation. For example, during the rapid growth of lithium batteries, we did not reap the benefits because at that time users needed to quickly replicate simple processes for fast-paced supply. Now that the market is becoming saturated, many leading companies are seeking to leverage Feature-Tec's technology for process innovation. This further proves that the era of simple replication based on scale is coming to an end. 

 

 

[CCN] Some say filtration is service-oriented, and Feature-Tec has also proposed to be a one-stop solution provider for filtration and separation, establishing a model of full lifecycle services. What kind of one-stop services can the company provide to customers?

【Sam He] We have found that production-oriented enterprises require a wide variety of filtration and separation equipment. During the construction phase of projects, due to subcontracting and different specifications, various equipment comes from different supply channels. When it comes to replacing relevant filtration products, different suppliers are involved. Even large enterprises may face disruptions in production systems due to issues with small lubrication systems or filters.

Therefore, we aim to provide preliminary services to clients when they are initiating a new project or conducting feasibility assessments. These services aim to reduce the variety of components required, enhance the standardization of replaceable components, and optimize process flows in conjunction with process systems and personnel to minimize operational difficulties.

During the production phase, we aim to collaborate with channel partners or service providers to offer specialized training, standardized processes, and maintenance equipment, helping clients reduce inventory and resolve on-site issues more quickly.

True one-stop and full lifecycle services must originate before the project begins. Filtration products are among the most frequently replaced items in the chemical industry, besides raw materials and additives. We advise clients to prioritize filtration processes when making project decisions. Instead of simply allocating purchases based on major process segments, they should plan and consider vulnerable components that require frequent maintenance during operation, aiming for standardization and modularization to minimize later complications.

Industrial production, especially in the chemical sector, often encounters highly toxic, corrosive, flammable, and explosive conditions. Neglecting equipment safety can lead to safety hazards when setting up filtration equipment temporarily in laboratories. We are promoting standardized complete filtration modules that do not require cleaning or validation of process flows. This enables clients to use "disposable" products safely.

 

 

 


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