Dinair’s GreenFlo filter consists of over 50 percent PLA, which is a bioplastic fibre derived from renewable sources. It has a high filter effect and very low CO2 footprint compared to conventional fossil fibre filters. Well evaluated in operational environments, it has become the company’s most popular product.
”Millions of discarded air filters are burnt every year. Since this is a source of large carbon dioxide emissions, we have been trying to develop a more environmentally-friendly alternative to the traditional oil based filter materials. The biggest hurdle was to find a compound mixture with the same pressure drop build-up and operating cost as the conventional filters made of glass fibre and fossil based materials. What we came up with was the GreenFlo filter; it consists of over 50 percent PolyLactic Acids (PLA), which is a bioplastic fibre, made from lactic acids derived from renewable sources such as corn starch”, says Fredrik Särnehed, CEO of Dinair.
”The renewable materials have excellent filtering properties, and 2014 has been a tipping point in our endeavour for a better environment; we are now selling more GreenFlo pocket filters than conventional ones”.
A very low CO2 footprint
Air filters are consumables; they need to be replaced regularly, and the discarded ones are industrially incinerated. The carbon dioxide emissions from millions of air filters being burnt every year are substantial, and the choice of both filter and filter frame has important consequences for the environment.
”The first GreenFlo filters were introduced by Dinair in 2007. We replaced approximately 10 percent of the fossil based fibres with PLA and improved energy efficiency and filter quality. Today, the PLA content is more than 50 percent and the GreenFlo is both environmentally-friendly and efficient. It can be used to filter the incoming air in moderately contaminated environments. Glass fibre filters are still required for an energy efficient solution where the air is heavily contaminated”, Fredrik says.
”According to our definition, a filter has to avoid excess energy consumption in operation to be environmentally efficient. That means that it should have a low average pressure drop. The manufacturing process has to be energy efficient as well. And once the filter is discarded and burnt, the carbon dioxide emissions should be as low as possible. Obviously, filtration should also be high enough to protect people, working environments, equipment and facilities”.
The pressure drop during operation is the single most important factor for how environmentally friendly a filter is seen from a lifecycle perspective. GreenFlo contains electrospun nanofibres, resulting in efficient filtration with very low pressure drop. The nanofibre is put on a renewable, carbon-saving PLA fabric. A metal filter frame is the default option, but bioplastic frames are also available. Compared to conventional plastic frames, both these options are better for the environment; the bioplastic one causes 70 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions.
”We are always thinking green, the environmental perspective is ever present. This is an important part of our work and we strive to challenge and develop ourselves and our products to be even better and, above all, even greener”, Fredrik Särnehed says.
Backed by a sustainable technology fund
Alder is a private equity firm that makes investments in the Nordic sustainable technology sector, focusing on companies with strong growth potential. In 2012, Alder purchased 49 percent of Dinair in order to support the company’s development of environmentally-friendly filters, accelerate growth and provide opportunity to expand internationally, primarily to the Nordic and Baltic markets. According to Alder, Dinair’s product development is an important initiative in the ventilation industry, and the unique renewable filter solutions provide good opportunities for growth. Alder underlines that Dinair’s products not only reduce the carbon footprint but also cut costs for clients from day one.
The article was published in May 2016.