Gas turbine filtration mechanisms

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Filters in the filtration system use many different mechanisms to remove particles from the air. The filter media, fiber size, packing density of the media, particle size, and electrostatic charge influence how the filter removes particles. Each filter typically has various different mechanisms working together to remove the particles.

The first filtration mechanism is inertial impaction. This type of filtration is applicable to particles larger than 1 μm in diameter. The inertia of the large heavy particles in the flow stream causes the particles to continue on a straight path as the flow stream moves around a filter fiber. The particulate then impacts and is attached to the filter media and held in place. This type of filtration mechanism is effective in high velocity filtration systems.

The next filtration mechanism, diffusion, is effective for very small particles typically less than 0.5 μm in size. Effectiveness increases with lower flow velocities. Small particles interact with nearby particles and gas molecules. Especially in turbulent flow, the path of small particles fluctuates randomly about the main stream flow. As these particles diffuse in the flow stream, they collide with the fiber and are captured. The smaller a particle and the lower the flowrate through the filter media, the higher probability that the particle will be captured.


The next two filtration mechanisms are the most well known; interception and sieving. Interception occurs with medium sized particles that are not large enough to leave the flow path due to inertia or not small enough to diffuse. The particles will follow the flow stream where they will touch a fiber in the filter media and be trapped and held. Sieving is the situation where the space between the filter fibers is smaller than the particle itself, which causes the particle to be captured and contained.

Electrostatic filtration is effective for particles in the 0.01 to 2 μm size range. The filter works through the attraction of particles to a charged filter. In gas turbine applications, this charge is applied to the filter before installation as a result of the manufacturing process. Filters always lose their electrostatic charge over time because the particles captured on their surface occupy charged sites, therefore neutralizing their electrostatic charge. As the charge is lost, the filter efficiency for small particles will decrease. On the other hand, as the filter is loaded, the filtration efficiency increases, thus counteracting the effect of lost charge to some extent. This will offset some of the loss of filtration efficiency due to the lost charge.