FILTECH 2021: Sustainable mobility needs to be clean

Mobility concepts that do not pollute the environment or damage the climate need to offer a lot more than just an electric drivetrain. Apart from exhaust emissions, the particulate matter from tire abrasion and brake dust are a major source of contamination for both humans and the environment. At the FILTECH in Cologne from February 23–25, 2021, exhibitors will be showcasing air filters and other solutions for promoting climate-friendly mobility and clean municipalities.

The idea of tomorrows mobility often conjures up visions of electric cars, self-driving vehicles, hydrogen-powered fuel cells, or the merging of individual mobility and public transportation. What we frequently tend to forget, however, is that nearly all of these mobility concepts run on wheels – which are fitted with rubber tires. And that´s why tire abrasion is becoming a growing problem, because it all ends up as microplastic on the road surface and therefore in the environment – regardless of which type of drivetrain the vehicle is equipped with.

According to the German Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), tire abrasion is among the largest sources of emissions from vehicles on public roads in terms of volume. Abrasion is responsible for generating around one kilogram of waste microplastics per person and year – an amount several times higher than that caused by shoe soles or plastic bags, for example. Rubber tire abrasion accounts for the highest proportion of microplastics in rivers and lakes and is a considerable source of pollution in the natural world. Although municipalities are already taking measures to reduce the amount discharged into the environment, according to the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), only around one quarter of the tire abrasion which ends up on the road surface is currently collected by street cleaning and wastewater treatment services.

Filter systems keep the environment clean

New biodegradable materials for manufacturing tires could be a solution in the long term, but it could take years or even decades before they are ready for the market and deployed on a broad basis. Only filter systems offer a short-term solution to this acute problem. They are already available on the market and are capable of capturing a significant amount of the abrasion caused by vehicles. This not only includes tire abrasion, but road abrasion, too – as that ultimately contributes towards environmental pollution as well.

Visitors to the FILTECH in February 2021 will be able to see various approaches to solving the problem of the emissions generated by human mobility. Even now, the FILTECH, the most important platform for filtration and separation technologies worldwide for solid, liquid, and gaseous media, reports over 340 registered exhibitors.

Solutions for water, soil, and air

Solutions for removing the contamination caused by road traffic from the air will also be presented at the FILTECH. The company Mann+Hummel aroused a great deal of interest at the FILTECH in 2019, as the filter manufacturer showcased its Filter Cubes III, 23 of which are currently installed at the “Neckartor”, a major traffic intersection in Stuttgart, where they clean the air of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. The company, which will also be at the FILTECH 2021, additionally offers brake dust particle filters capable of capturing 80 percent of the particulate matter generated by braking systems, thus effectively preventing it from polluting the ambient air. The filters can be installed in passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and rolling stock in the rail sector.

The company ECOFARIO also expects to awaken a high level of interest among visitors. The Munich-based start-up is working on implementing a technology that can be deployed as a fourth purification stage in sewage treatment plants. Its High-G separator is expected to be capable of removing up to 99.9 percent of the microplastics found in wastewater – including adhering contaminants, drug residues, and hormones. Visitors to the stand will have the opportunity to gather information on the technology, the pilot plant, and future applications.

“The booking status indicates that the decision to enlarge the event to cover two exhibition halls was the right one”, says Suzanne Abetz of FILTECH Exhibitions Germany. With the latest ventilation technology, the modern halls 7 and 8 of Koelnmesse support the safety and hygiene concept for the event which includes a safe hall layout, availability of disinfectant at all essential points and masks to wear when not seated.

Numerous other exhibitors will be presenting their strategies for clean water, clean air, and uncontaminated soil at the FILTECH in Cologne from February 23–25, 2021. Their products and services are enabling sustainable mobility with a future that is not the problem, but the solution in terms of global climate targets.