Understanding the Air Quality Challenge
Air Filtration has a significant impact on engine performance, especially in protecting the turbocharger and aftercooler systems from debris ingress and fouling. Damage to the turbocharger and/or the aftercooler is often the first indication that an air intake filtration system or the filtration efficiency are not suitable for a given application.
In this article we will evaluate the need for air filtration and how the quality of the surrounding air and the changing dynamics in the engine market play a role in determining the type of filtration required. Air filtration should be considered as a function of the total mass of contaminant ingested which is directly influenced by the type of atmospheric and industrial environment i.e. the ambient air quality of a given installation.
Air contamination can be caused by natural plant matter or solid particulate found in the air. It can also be caused by man-made air pollution hazards. Understanding the air quality challenges of a given location or installation can help determine the optimum air filtration solution to enhance engine performance. Let’s start by exploring the key air quality challenges that can impact engine performance.
Understanding the air quality challenges
Changing market conditions
The significance of air filtration for reciprocating engine power generation is gaining an increased awareness as operators are evaluating how to decarbonise operations. OEMs are also developing market-leading technologies and starting to implement hybrid power plants (solar or wind combined with gas engines). Today, flexible engine power plants can use 100% synthetic and carbon-neutral methane and methanol fuel. They are also capable of using hydrogen/natural gas blends containing up to 25% hydrogen – and a pure hydrogen solution is in the pipeline.
The use of gas and alternative fuels and the drive to decarbonise will lead to an increase of the filtration efficiency required. In comparison to diesel / heavy fuel oil (HFO) gas an alternative fuel source is clean with stable properties and therefore the quality of the air becomes more significant on the performance of the engine. These developments will have an impact on air filtration requirements.
The individual location of a reciprocating engine installation is fundamental to determine the individual air quality challenge. There are many factors that influence air quality both man-made and natural and so a thorough understanding of the surrounding environment is important to understand the potential impact of low cost and low quality air filtration could have on engine performance.
Operators are faced with a choice to implement a low cost filtration solution or the optimum filtration solution for their given installation. Optimized air filtration will meet the individual air quality challenges of a given installation and in doing so will protect engines, especially turbochargers and aftercoolers. It will also lead to reduced downtime, lower maintenance costs and a more efficient operation.
An Operator should consider the commercial and environmental benefits of improved air filtration. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to engine air filtration but the impacts of poor filtration can be very costly, inefficient and lead to increased emissions and environmental impact.
To understand more contact AAF for further support.