Alternative HEPA Media in a Class of Its Own

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An Interview with Hunter Most of AAF Flanders

Hunter Most, a sales and technical support manager at AAF Flanders, has seven years of experience in clean environments. He understands the industry-specific requirements and challenges in Life Sciences applications, such as pharmaceutical production, biomedical research, and medical device manufacturing. In this interview, Most explains how AAF Flanders’ innovative eFRM HEPA media saves time, saves money, and reduces operational risk.

What Does a Facility Manager Look for in a HEPA Filter?

“For starters, within Life Sciences, you want a reliable HEPA filter to meet all air quality requirements for a clean space. Further, the media has to withstand exposure to all sorts of substances, like oil-based test aerosols, cleaning agents, and sanitizers. If a HEPA filter cannot check these boxes, then it won’t work in these Life Sciences applications.”

What Is the Problem with Traditional HEPA Filter Media?

“The traditional media used in HEPA filters is a type of fiberglass, and it is widely known to be a fragile material. In fact, the traditional fiberglass media is so delicate that I have seen pictures of a full-size handprint pressed right through the HEPA filter. So, each time you handle HEPA filters with fiberglass media, whether in shipping, storage, or installation into a ceiling, accidents can and frequently do happen. Because this fiberglass media is damaged so readily, clients routinely order 10% extra HEPA filters to keep on hand to keep downtime to a minimum.”


OK, So How Is eFRM Media Different from Traditional HEPA Media?

“Because eFRM is a type of membrane media, it stands up to all sorts of rough treatment. Any way you want to measure it, the strength of eFRM media exceeds that of fiberglass media. That is far and away the biggest difference between eFRM and fiberglass media.”


How Is eFRM Different from Other Membrane Media?

“When HEPA filters first started being made with membrane media a few decades ago, it was known as PTFE or ePTFE. PTFE quickly earned a positive reputation within microelectronics applications not just for its strength, but also its durability and lower resistance. Naturally, people in Life Sciences spaces wanted to take advantage of these benefits, too.

“Unfortunately, it was soon discovered that the oil-based test aerosols, such as polyalphaolefin, or PAO, used in Life Sciences applications restrict airflow through HEPA filters made with PTFE. In response, AAF Flanders developed a new type of membrane media that we call eFRM, short for ‘expanded fluororesin membrane,’ that provides all of the same advantages of PTFE but is perfectly compatible with oily test aerosols such as PAO.”

What Were Those Benefits Other Than Strength that eFRM Media Offers?

“Not only is eFRM media practically indestructible, but it also has a 50% lower resistance than traditional media. Customers of ours in pharmaceutical and medical device industries have found that they no longer have to stockpile extra HEPA filters, and that their energy bills are far lower after installing HEPAs made with eFRM media.


“HEPA filters with eFRM media quickly pay for themselves through savings related to the purchase of fewer filters, fewer labor hours spent on filter changeouts, and reduced energy use. In other words, HEPAs made with eFRM media have a higher initial cost but much lower total cost of ownership compared to HEPAs made with fiberglass media.


“Further, the structure of eFRM media tolerates exposure to an assortment of elements that are commonly found in Life Sciences environments. This innovative membrane media retains its integrity and continues to deliver exceptional performance throughout a HEPA filter’s installed life, even when exposed to water and other liquids, humidity, elevated hydrocarbon levels, and harsh cleaning chemicals and disinfectants. Put simply, this media is built to last.”

Earlier You Mentioned “Operational Risk.” How Does eFRM Minimize Operational Risk?

 When dealing with a situation where the air needs to be very clean coming in or going out, you are dealing with substantial operational risk. Because eFRM media is so durable, HEPA filters made with it drastically reduce the chances of contaminants entering Life Sciences environments. If you don’t have to worry about pinhole leaks, tears, or punctures as you do with fiberglass, then you don’t have to worry nearly so much about contaminant leaks. If you can avoid contaminant leaks, then you also avoid serious threats to human health, product safety, and routine operation.”

We Covered a Lot of Ground. Can You Summarize the Advantages of eFRM over Microglass Media?

“Sure, I’d be happy to. Basically, if you were to try and design the best possible HEPA media for Life Sciences applications, you would develop eFRM. First of all, eFRM media is far stronger, so it eliminates the damage frequently suffered by fiberglass media. Second, eFRM media has a 50% lower resistance, which means that air passes through the filter more readily and energy costs go down. Third, eFRM media maintains this excellent performance over the long haul, even in the harshest, most demanding conditions. As one customer puts it, eFRM media provides a peace of mind unavailable from anyone else.”

Want to Know More?

Coward Environmental Systems, Inc. is proud to represent AAF Flanders in the Philadelphia region, Central PA, Delaware, and Maryland. Contact us today to discover how AAF Flanders can be a part of your next project.