Cellulose filter media better than sythetic?

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Long time listener, first time caller. I would like your expert opinion on this. I read an article in the 2013 July/August issue of Auto Service Professional where the author (who is Dan Pike, group executive of Filter Manufacturers Council) claims that cellulose based filter media is better than synthetic media because "cellulose media is better at adsorption and impingement, it can remove more contaminants than glass or synthetic media without plugging [filter] pore spaces". The thinking behind this claim is this: "The process of fluids and contaminants collecting on the fluffy fibers of cellulose fiter's surface is called adsorption. The more adsorption a media applies, the more small particles can be separated before they reach the small pore spaces on the screen side of the media." Now since "cellulose media typically is thicker than synthetic...particles spend [more time] traveling through it. Each time the fluid changes direction around a fiber, the momentum keep particles traveling in the same direction they were going and they are driven into the fibers. This particle separation is called impingement. As with adsorption, the more impingement that a media applies, the more particles are separated without plugging the tight pore spaces on the screen side". "Sythetic media does separate some particles with adsorption and impingement, but the smooth fibers can't hold the particles in place. Often they are washed off with the fluid traveling through the media. Synthetic media primarily uses the particle separation technique called direct interception. Direct interception is simply separating particles by passing the fluid though pore spaces that are small enough to catch them. Once all pores are filled with the contaminant, the filter is plugged and its life is over." Thus since cellulose media holds the particles better than synthetic media "it can remove more contaminants than glass or synthetic media without plugging [filter] pore spaces". For those that want to read the article at can be found here: http://asp.epubxp.com/i/148057 pages 50-58.
 
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Originally Posted By: 440Magnum
I think its pretty much backwards in just about everything it says.
+1
 
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There is truth to the claim that cellulose is better at absorbing moisture and oxidation residue than synthetic. if those are problems for a particular engine, that may steer the choice in that direction. I'm not sure what he's taking about in terms of synthetic media having less capacity than cellulose because that does not track with other data I have been given that show, per square inch of media, syn has much high capacity. That is a very basic article and short on details. Here is my counter to it: Oil Filters
 
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Originally Posted By: Jim Allen
There is truth to the claim that cellulose is better at absorbing moisture and oxidation residue than synthetic. if those are problems for a particular engine, that may steer the choice in that direction. I'm not sure what he's taking about in terms of synthetic media having less capacity than cellulose because that does not track with other data I have been given that show, per square inch of media, syn has much high capacity. That is a very basic article and short on details. Here is my counter to it: Oil Filters
Very good write up Mr Allen. Professional, To the point and very informative.
 
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Originally Posted By: trekvana
Long time listener, first time caller. I would like your expert opinion on this. I read an article in the 2013 July/August issue of Auto Service Professional where the author (who is Dan Pike, group executive of Filter Manufacturers Council) claims that cellulose based filter media is better than synthetic media because "cellulose media is better at adsorption and impingement, it can remove more contaminants than glass or synthetic media without plugging [filter] pore spaces". The thinking behind this claim is this: "The process of fluids and contaminants collecting on the fluffy fibers of cellulose fiter's surface is called adsorption. The more adsorption a media applies, the more small particles can be separated before they reach the small pore spaces on the screen side of the media." Now since "cellulose media typically is thicker than synthetic...particles spend [more time] traveling through it. Each time the fluid changes direction around a fiber, the momentum keep particles traveling in the same direction they were going and they are driven into the fibers. This particle separation is called impingement. As with adsorption, the more impingement that a media applies, the more particles are separated without plugging the tight pore spaces on the screen side". "Sythetic media does separate some particles with adsorption and impingement, but the smooth fibers can't hold the particles in place. Often they are washed off with the fluid traveling through the media. Synthetic media primarily uses the particle separation technique called direct interception. Direct interception is simply separating particles by passing the fluid though pore spaces that are small enough to catch them. Once all pores are filled with the contaminant, the filter is plugged and its life is over." Thus since cellulose media holds the particles better than synthetic media "it can remove more contaminants than glass or synthetic media without plugging [filter] pore spaces". For those that want to read the article at can be found here: http://asp.epubxp.com/i/148057 pages 50-58.
I agree with this.
 

dnewton3

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I see benefits to both types of media. I have always been a fan a cellulose for many reasons; absorbsion, etc and cost. Hard to beat that ROI. For "normal" applications, it works really well and loading to full potential (blinding off) is not a risk. However, if capacity is an issue, the practical manufacturing abilites with synthetic media cannot be ignored. You can get a much longer lifespan out of synthetic for a reasonable cost. It's not that you can't get that from cellulose, but the size of the filter would need to be made bigger, and then you may or may not run into practical fitment issues. Perhaps the good alternative is the "glass enhanced" cellulose media? The element of syn media has it's limitations as well. It has zero ability to absorb moisture; it will pass right on by in a tradtionally made syn media filter. This is why papertowels are made of cellulose and not synthetic media; people expect them to absob stuff. That is a gross exaggeration of the function of an oil filter, but it cannot be ignored conceptually. It's just applicable on a much smaller scale. Much of this, as with everything else, depends upon many factors in the unique applications. Way too important a topic to just throw a one-size-fits-all blanket over this. We cannot make a statement that neatly fits everything, no matter how easily it fits into marketing commercials and advertising. I will note that person's postion might infer some bit of knowledge; you'd like to think anyone who is the president of the filter maker council might have some insight. We should not automatically disregard his position just because we don't fully agree with it. I don't totally agree with everything he said, but at least some of it is true in some circumstances. I agree with Jim here, and would add that there are times when any of the three choices (cellulose, syn media, hybrid) might make sense for the application in which one finds him or her self. In all my applications, I have yet to see where I needed synthetic media and cellulose failed. And I run my filters out three and four years in some applications. Anyone that does the annual " ... or one year" has zero to worry about.
 

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Originally Posted By: trekvana
Long time listener, first time caller. I would like your expert opinion on this. I read an article in the 2013 July/August issue of Auto Service Professional where the author (who is Dan Pike, group executive of Filter Manufacturers Council) claims that cellulose based filter media is better than synthetic media because "cellulose media is better at adsorption and impingement, it can remove more contaminants than glass or synthetic media without plugging [filter] pore spaces".
Haven't read the article yet, but will. All I can say is if that is true then why are some full synthetic oil filters just as (or more) efficient than cellulose, and why can they hold so much more debris and be rated for up to 15K miles? Maybe because not all synthetic is created equal, just like not all cellulose is created equal?
 

trekvana

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I think what the article is saying is that since cellulose material can catch particles in the top "fluffy" part of the filter media before they can get to the inner screen, it prevents the small pores from get plugged as fast as opposed to synthetic material which doesn't have as thick of a "fluffy" material and so many of the particles go straight to the inner screen section. But then again you do have an excellent point. If cellulose prevents the pores from getting clogged as fast why doesn't it last as long as synthetic. Maybe cellulose media is good up to a certain point and then loses efficiency???
 
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ZeeOSix

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Originally Posted By: trekvana
I think what the article is saying is that since cellulose material can catch particles in the top "fluffy" part of the filter media before they can get to the inner screen, it prevents the small pores from get plugged as fast as opposed to synthetic material which doesn't have as thick of a "fluffy" material and so many of the particles go straight to the inner screen section .
The cellulose media I've seen in Purolator, WIX, NAPA is not "fluffy". Usually synthetic media looks "fluffy". The advantage of full synthetic media (from what I've read) is that it has more "pore density" (ie, more pores for flow) and doesn't "plug-up" the same as cellulose. That is why it can hold more debris (ie, have more miles of use) and still retain good flow characteristics. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=full+synthetic+oil+filter+media+PDF This article is pretty good where they talk about the difference between cellulose and synthetic media: http://www.genosgarage.com/GenosGarageTechArticles/TDR71_LubeOilFiltration.pdf
 

ZeeOSix

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After reading the article, it seems they have reversed cellulose and synthetic by some of the things they say. For instance on the 2nd page of the article they are saying cellulose media has more "adsorption" than synthetic, then they say: "The more adsorption a media applies, the more small particles can be separated before they reach the small pore spaces on the screen side of the media." But cellulose media never has a backing screen. "Cellulose media typically is thicker than synthetic." It's the other way around from everything I've seen with my own eyes. Synthetic media is thick and fluffy ... cellulose is thin and smooth in comparison. "Because cellulose media is better at adsorption and impingement, it can remove more contaminants than glass or synthetic media without plugging pore spaces." I thought it was the other way around ... that full synthetic doesn't plug pore spaces like cellulose and that's why it can hold more debris and flow better as it loads up as compared to cellulose. EVERY full synthetic oil filter I've seen is rated for way more miles than it's cellulose counterpart. Anyone else think they have this reversed in the article? Lots of things contradict everything else I've read about the way cellulose and synthetic media behaves.
 
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Thanks for the great info Jim. A couple of questions if you have the time... Does a Synthetic filter have as good or better flow than a conventional filter? And, what do you think about guys who put oversized filters on their engine? They say they get better capacity, but would it effect oil pressure in a negative way? Thanks in advance.
 

ZeeOSix

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Synthetic media flows better than cellulose, any article about synthetic media will say that. Using a bigger oil filter doesn't change the oil pressure ... why would it? There are no negative drawbacks of using a larger filter as long as the bypass setting is close and it fits the engine's mounting right and physically fits in the location designated for the filter.
 
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Yep, I concur with Zee's answer. The main advantage of more media is less pressure drop and more capacity. The lower pressure differential (across the media) can result in fewer bypass events and less chance of bypassing on a cold start. This is irrespective of the type of media but a synthetic media flows more per square inch of media. There are no negatives to using a larger filter beyond issues with the physical fit and the extra cost. The cost is an issue if you care about getting payback for the extra money spent.
 
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Thanks Jim, makes you wonder why they don't make the filters a little bigger, or at least give you the option of buying a larger one. Now, to find a match so I can use a larger synthetic filter on my car... I'm a little leery that an imperfect fit might effect the valve in the filter. Time for some googling... Coffee
 

ZeeOSix

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Originally Posted By: dino33
I'm a little leery that an imperfect fit might effect the valve in the filter.
How?
 
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