Better Filtration Helps Prolong Engines And Reduce Emissions

Magnetic filtration beats mechanical

Better Filtration Helps Prolong Engines And Reduce Emissions

Really tiny particles of contaminants are ruining your engines, causing emissions, and costing you a lot of money. Filtration using magnets is the answer.

Today’s modern engine technologies are machined to very tight tolerances. The gap between two pieces of metal that slide over one another, such as a piston in a cylinder, or bearings in a sleeve, is perhaps just a few micros wide, and has a very thin layer of lubricant to keep the two pieces moving smoothly. Filters try their best to strain out  dust from the air, metal shavings, bits of sand, and other contaminants from gumming up the works. But is there a better way?

Yes, and it involves the use of magnets.

This is a slightly edited transcript of an interview I had with Roger Simonson of One Eye Industries about the hidden cost of using 1970’s filtration on 2020 engines.

You can check out the interview on my podcast here.


Becoming an Entrepreneur

Geoffrey 

How did you end up as an entrepreneur in this field?

Roger 

I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My parents are from the logging, lumber and mining industries, and my siblings are entrepreneurs. However, I left the business world and joined law enforcement for 25 years. I was in an investigative role. People are fascinating to me, and I developed strong interviewing skills. 17 years into my police career, I decided I want to get to get back to being an entrepreneur like my family and start a business. When I retired at 25 years, I had a path forward to a whole new career.

Geoffrey 

Did you go directly from law enforcement into One Eye Industries?

Roger 

I started One Eye Industries 17 years into my police career, and built the technology quietly on the side. And when I left policing in 2005, I went full time and we haven’t looked back.

Why Filtration?

Geoffrey 

What was the problem you detected that was worthy of your entrepreneurial talents to try to solve?

Roger 

Well, I did a lot of surveillance on bad guys. And unlike television or movies, surveillance is very, very boring. It leaves you time to think, and I have one of those minds that never stopped thinking about how to improve things. One day, my partner and I were rebuilding an engine, and we were not happy with the filter technology. Engine filters are 50/60-year-old technology, and it wasn’t very good at removing contaminants.

Geoffrey 

Are contaminants the fragments of shavings and metal bits that have been carved out of the engine itself into tiny particles?

Roger 

That’s called break-in wear, and it’s part of the problem. But your brand-new lube oil for your engine comes with lots of iron particles. These are very, very small particles, typically under 10 microns. Your eye can see down to 40, just to explain how small 10 is. The iron in your oil that you put in your engine causes break-in wear. Other tiny wear contaminants get into the engine through the  air during assembly. If you add all these up and start the engine, you prematurely wear all the components inside the engine through these iron particles.

Geoffrey 

Does having tiny particles of iron floating around in the oil or in the engine have a big effect on the way it runs? Does it increase failure rates or make the engine run less efficiently?

Roger 

Yes, if you look at the statistics back 30 years ago, 80% of all rotating equipments’ cause of failure was contamination of iron, steel, and silica.

Geoffrey 

Car owners are told that they need to change the oil every 15,000 kilometers or thereabouts. If you take that to an industrial complex, though, with hundreds of pieces of rotating equipment, the scale of this becomes a financial problem that industry has to care about.

Roger 

Exactly. I mentioned earlier that 30 years ago, 80% of rotating equipment failure is due to wear contamination. That’s the same today.

Geoffrey 

Have we lengthened the time between failures because of filtration technologies improving, or with better oil or more wear-resistant parts?

Roger 

The oil is much, much better than it was 30 years ago. The problem is that 30 years ago, the tolerances on equipment’s bearings and key components under pressure were above four microns in particle size. All the analysis and filtration capability were focused on trying to get these large particles out. Today the tolerance on a bearing in an engine under load is one micron film of oil.

Geoffrey 

So, between two moving metal surfaces is a gap of one micron. Will a one-micron particle find its way into the gap, does it cause wear?

Roger 

Yes. That’s why today 80% of all rotating equipment failure is still due to wear contamination. Furthermore, if you look at the filtration capability of an engine oil filter, it’s typically 30 microns and higher. It isn’t fine enough for the job nowadays.

Other Filtration Technologies

Geoffrey 

I have household filters on my vacuum cleaner and furnace. These filters are made of permeable paper or fabric and are accordioned. Is that the standard today in industry?

Roger 

Yes, but there are other filtration technologies. There’s an aftermarket technology like a centrifuge filter, but the typical engine oil filter is very, very inefficient. It’s not so much the filter’s fault or the OEM engine manufacturer. They need to have lubrication, so they can’t impede that flow. If you put a very tight traditional filter in there, it will go into bypass very quickly, where it will go around and not through the filter, and you’ll have no filtration. Or no lubrication.

Geoffrey 

Will an engine under load with a traditional, 1-micron filter installed going to have to work a lot harder to push lubricant through the filter?

Roger 

Exactly. Eventually pressure causes the lubricant to flow around the filter, or bypass, so you’re not protecting the integrity of your investment. That was the focus for my first invention, a magnetic filter. How do we remove all that wear contamination without influencing the flow of oil? It needed to respect the warranty from an OEM and be user-friendly so that anyone can install it. I designed what I call a magnetic filter pad. It uses very, very powerful rare earth magnets that are embedded in a flexible foam. You attach that to your traditional filter. As the oil is running through, it projects magnetic fields through the skin of the filter into the oil, pulls out all the fine contamination well below one micron, and drops it on the inside skin of the oil filter.

Geoffrey 

You mentioned silica earlier as a contaminant. Silica is not magnetic.  Why would silica be attracted to a magnet like this?

Roger 

The sub-micron iron particles, when flowing through the oil channels, marry up with the non-ferrous particles; not just silica, but calcium, or phosphorus. When they marry up and combine, our magnetic fields, can pull them in and take them out of the stream.

Geoffrey 

Why do they marry up?

Roger 

In two ways: by common contact flowing through the piping, or through static adhesion. The latter is most common, though. Whenever you flow a liquid or a gas through a piping system, it will create a static charge. That static charge is electromagnetic. Now that little piece of silica is charged and magnetized, and it marries up with the iron particle that’s also charged, and then can be captured by the filter.

Geoffrey 

Does the flow of the material flowing through the pipe cause a buildup of electrical load that somehow has to be released?

Roger 

The faster the flow of the gas or the liquid, the more static charge you build. A static charge is an issue with hydraulic filters and in fuel filters. Ideally, these filters are grounded.  Our magnetic filters naturally eliminate the static charge once it comes in contact with the magnetic field. We don’t have that issue.

The Filtration Market

Geoffrey 

How does this compare to older filters?

Roger 

It’s a big improvement, but the market for filters has some structural problems. In automotive, most people don’t change their own oil filter or know how it works, and it’s hard to convince the automakers to change. Our  industrial-sized magnetic filter design can remove sub-micron particles, and the end user, the owner of equipment, is the biggest customer. But again, OEMs and after market filter suppliers have existing businesses based on frequent filter changes and engine overhauls. Magnetic filtration extends the life of the equipment components two and three times normal. That means fewer purchases for new parts and filters, and less frequent overhauls. It also reduces the lube oils consumed, so you’re reducing your consumption of hydrocarbon fluids, which reduces emissions. The environmental and cost pressures on industry are now making improved filtration very attractive to oil, gas, and mining.

Geoffrey 

I can see the structural impediment to adoption. The services industry economically benefits from replacing filters.

Roger 

The safety factor is also huge, in terms of driving-time, especially in the world we’re living in right now. We need less contact with people, less travel-time. Our technology is designed so that once a year, you have to clean them and put them back into service. We’ve had them now in service for 20 years and they’re still working. Other filters last far less time, and need to be disposed of after they collect too much contaminant.

Geoffrey 

What does it mean to clean the magnetic filter? How do you clean it?

Roger 

All the small ones are easily cleaned manually. The magnetic filter element looks like a tube or a paper towel roll. Our design makes the magnetic fields radial, rather than north-south. What that means is the ends of the element have no magnetic field, just along the length. The contaminants gather around the element. To clean it, you pull it against the radial field to the end and everything falls off.

Geoffrey 

This is an easy procedure to adopt. What do you do with the contaminant?

Roger 

It will be covered with oil. Our customers typically put it in their used oil, which is then recycled or recovered. The beauty of our technology is you don’t have to dispose of throw away one time use filters, just clean and re-engage the filter.

Filtration and Emissions

Geoffrey 

How does this filter technology reduce emissions?

Roger 

Most fuels, including diesel, gasoline, marine fuel, and so on all have iron contamination, which damages the engine, and changes the actual fuel mixture. Therefore, you’re going to have a lower quality burn. Unspent fuel goes out the exhaust, along with the particles in the fuel. If you can clean all the wear contamination out of diesel fuel or gasoline, you’re going to have a much better burn and fewer emissions.

The Business Case

Geoffrey 

Do you have some case examples of organizations who have been able to cut back the level of service they’ve been applying because they no longer need to replace the traditional filters?

Roger 

We focus on mining rotating equipment. It’s very large equipment, and $3-$5 million in cost. Our technology is far more costly than traditional one time use filter. The traditional filters used in this example would be around $80, where ours would be about $2000.

Geoffrey 

There’s a trade-off between the up-front cost and the long-term savings, then?

Roger 

There are also savings in fuel and oil consumption. If you take a large haul truck on a mine site, they’ll have 350 to 400 liters of oil in that engine, and every 250 hours, or every eight days, you change that oil. You put our filter on, and we can go three to four times longer between change. It pays for our filter in the first month.

Geoffrey 

Where are the filters installed? In the vehicle itself, or is it at lube cleaning sites?

Roger 

Both, actually. Our logic in our business is if you have a pre-emptive, condition-based maintenance program, you can change oil much less frequently, instead of the OEM recommendation of every 250 hours. That saves a tremendous amount of money, and the engine components will last two and three times longer. Mining companies all over the world are enjoying these cost savings.

Geoffrey 

Beyond mining equipment, where else are you seeing a need for better filtration?

Roger 

Another key market is the compressors and turbines in gas plants. Improved filtration saves millions of dollars in downtime.

Geoffrey 

There’ll be a lot of turbines in the oil and gas industry. What about the new renewable industry?

Roger 

Wind turbines, rail engines, and many other large engines benefit.

Geoffrey 

The offshore industry comes to mind for me as well, because the expenses are enormous. These filters are essentially a rounding error for them.

Roger 

These filters are at work on some offshore facilities. The cost of traveling or transporting lube oils and filters out to site, use them, and transport them back is huge in the offshore. We eliminate that issue by cleaning our filters on-site. They’re only brought out at one time. Since they last for 20+ years, there’s no return cost.

Geoffrey 

Where do you see this technology going down the road? How does the drive to a low-carbon future impact the need for better filtration?

Roger 

Between COVID and the recession, the environment we are in has created a mindset to try and find ways to extend the life of big, industrial equipment. For example, drilling companies are extending the life of all their hydraulic equipment and their gearboxes by using magnetic filters to clean the drilling mud. No one’s ever had a technology before that could actually clean it.

Geoffrey 

Where are the filters made?

Roger 

We have a 18,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Calgary, and we ship around the world.


To learn more about magnetic filtration, visit One Eye Industries.

Check out my book, ‘Bits, Bytes, and Barrels: The Digital Transformation of Oil and Gas’, available on Amazon and other on-line bookshops.

Take Digital Oil and Gas, the one-day on-line digital oil and gas awareness course.

Mobile: ☎️ +1(587)830-6900
email: 📧 geoff@geoffreycann.com
website: 🖥 geoffreycann.com
LinkedIn: 🔵 www.linkedin.com/in/training-digital-oil-gas

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