Oil magnet

A UK company has secured £1.4m to market a novel magnetic oil filter for car transmissions and other applications.

Conventional gauze filters capture contamination in the lubricant as it flows through the gauze, but this can cause pressure in the supply to drop and the filteritself can have a relatively short operational life.

Fluid Conditioning Systems, based in Warwick, claims its filter will extract ferrous and non-ferrous particles down to one micron without causing any drop in pressure. chief executive Tom Hulme said this means that for the first time fine filtration can be employed before the pump in the oil supply line.

‘The system is capable of magnetically extracting sand, silicon, paint and even human hairs as well as ferrous material from the lubricant. This will protect the pump, improve the fluid life and enhance the process performance,’ he said.

Known as the Magnom, the filter is also designed to store the contamination ‘three-dimensionally’ rather than on a single plane as the gauze filter does. This again increases its life and reduces the waste and disposal requirements. Lola Cars has already tested the system, and FCS said it has completed a deal under which the technology will be used by a leading Formula 1 team.

The filter consists of a series of annular magnets. Sandwiched between each magnet are two steel discs that also act as permanent magnets. There are wide channels cut into the profile of each disc to allow the lubricant to pass without altering the rate of flow. The edges of the discs are also bent towards each other to create a certain flux in the magnetic field. This is focused in such a way as to attract magnetic and non-magnetic material, said Hulme.

The department of engineering at Salford University has investigated the phenomenon. Researchers found that conditions within the filter resulted in a process known as heterocoagulation, where non-magnetic particles in the lubricant aggregate with ferrous material and then attach to the filter magnets.

Much larger amounts of contamination can be extracted and stored in this way in the spaces between the steel plates than in a conventional oil filter. FCS said the technology, which can be scaled up or down to suit any application, can be used in a wide range of automotive platforms, as well as aerospace, marine engine and hydraulic systems.

The magnom has recently been installed on machinery at Didcot power station and was proved in a trial on the printing presses of the New York Daily News.

Last week the company signed a deal with two private investors for £1.4m of working capital to promote the technology worldwide.