Vehicles and equipment frequently encounter contamination that may cause excessive wear, unreliable operation, or complete failure. These harmful contaminants include particulate debris from ingested dust, water, microbiological growth, and lubricating oil soot and wear debris. Filtration products minimize exposure to these contaminants, reducing equipment maintenance costs and downtime.
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) evaluates filtration performance, solves filtration-related problems, and develops improved filters. With broad capabilities in material sciences, engine design and development, and fuel and lubricant technologies, the Institute provides a significant, single resource to filtration manufacturers, suppliers, and users. Institute staff members participate in professional societies and industry groups that promulgate filtration standards and specifications. Because of its independent and impartial status, SwRI frequently offers opportunities to participate in cooperative research and development programs. Institute technical divisions supporting filtration technology have achieved certification to ISO 9001 or 9002, ensuring compliance with stringent quality control procedures in design, development, and testing.
For more than 25 years, the Institute has conducted oil- and fuel-filter testing, continually improving capabilities, facilities, and equipment. Engineers and scientists use laboratory testing, experimentation, field analysis, and concurrent engineering to address a comprehensive range of filtration-related problems. SwRI’s areas of focus include:
Fuel Filtration Tests
Fuel systems continually encounter contaminants that harm fuel-system components, reduce engine performance, and plug fuel filters. Using standardized and custom-designed tests and advanced analytical tools, including a computerized liquid filter bench test facility, engineers evaluate filtration-related problems. Institute staff perform most fuel filtration tests, including:
Lubricant Filtration Tests
Stringent automotive and engine emission standards require lubricants to tolerate increased contaminants, such as soot. At the same time, engine manufacturers and vehicle users are demanding reduced maintenance and extended oil drain intervals. To meet both criteria, manufacturers are developing improved lubrication filtration systems to remove more contaminants for a longer time. SwRI provides a wide range of lubricant and hydraulic oil filtration testing and analyses, including:
Particle Counting and Surface Chemistry Evaluation
Filtration design and development require a comprehensive understanding of particle contamination and surface chemistry. Excessive particle contamination contributes to filter plugging, causes excessive engine wear, and develops injection system deposits. Using surface chemistry, SwRI scientists assess the wetting and immersion behavior of liquid and solid material, evaluating the filtration capabilities of innovative filtration media. Institute services include:
Filtration Test Method Development
The Institute, working with industry and government agencies, is developing improved test methods that better simulate the fuel and lubricant filter environment. By incorporating real-world operating parameters into test methods, SwRI engineers improve repeatability and reproducibility in the laboratory. Institute staff members have developed several novel filtration-related test methods and analysis techniques, including the SwRI Wear Index fuel filter test and rating method and the ISO test for lubricating-oil soot removal devices.
Field Analysis and Contamination Assessment
Filters often encounter unknown contaminants that reduce filter life or performance. Engineers use contaminant, filter, and fluid analyses to identify the contaminant, its source, and filter performance. SwRI staff members use a wide variety of analytical tools and test methods, including: