2 min read

Eliminating Filter Element Sparking

Mon, Aug. 12, 2013

baby with static from a balloon

Static electricity is an amazing thing. It can cause hairs to stand on end when rubbed with a balloon, which can cause it to then stick to a wall. (It’s a fun trick, especially for kids). Unfortunately, when it comes to interaction with filters, static can have devastating results.

Using the analogy above, think of your fluid as a balloon and your filter as a wall. As fluid passes through the filter, static builds up creating a static charge on the element. It has to dissipate somehow, so the charge arcs through the filter media to nearby metal surfaces (such as the core and housing). When this happens, it makes a spark. 

It Only Takes a Spark to Get a Fire Going 

Sparks can be heard as a popping or clicking noise (in lube or hydraulic elements). That spark creates heat. And we’re not talking just a little heat. The spark will cause a static burn hole in the filter media, reducing the efficiency of the element. Also, the excessively high heat of the spark causes thermal degradation (pyrolysis) of the fluid. The results can be devastating because it creates acids, which are one the contributing sources of varnish. Varnish is a nightmare for lube and hydraulic systems that we’ll discuss in a later blog series on varnish.

How Do You Eliminate Element Sparking?

If you are experiencing spark discharge, non-spark filter elements are a MUST. Non-spark discharge (NSD) elements offer reduced resistance to prevent charging/friction while maintaining absolute filtration efficiency by using all conductive filter element materials. An added bonus is that some users even report lower MPC values after NSD elements have been installed. While it’s not our intended use for the filter, it’s certainly an added bonus!

To find out more about preventing thermal degradation or the benefits of not having those pesky sparks, give us a call. We love talking about this stuff!


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Written by Brad Bainbridge


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