Larry Crider
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Your engines oil filter is critically important to the life of your engine. The oil filters job is to capture and hold contaminants and other wear causing particles suspended in the engine oil and thus prevent abrasive wear that will shorten your engines service life.

But just how well does an oil filter’s media work at removing contaminants from the oil?

For many years treated paper (cellulose) has been stuffed inside the oil filters can or cartridge in a pleated form to allow as much surface area as possible inside the confines of any given sized filter.

When talking about filtration there are two main things to consider. Efficiency, meaning how small of particles can the media capture and capacity, how much contaminants the filter media can hold before the media starts becoming loaded and flow is reduced to an un-satisfactory level.

Some years ago various companies started blending treated paper with a synthetic glass fiber and this improved particle efficiency considerably over just plain paper.

So just how efficient do we want the oil filter to be? In a perfect world it would of course be desirable for the oil filter to capture 100% of all contaminants of all sizes down to the most infinitesimally tiny.

Being that this is obviously not possible from an engineering standpoint what particles are the most important to catch to provide the best real world wear protection?

Many studies done in the industry have shown that the most damaging contaminants are found in the 5 micron to 20-micron size range. (A micron is one millionth of a meter. For reference a red blood cell averages about 8 microns... we're talking really small here!) Particles smaller than 5 microns do have an effect on wear but to a much smaller degree.

As per ISO 4548-12 a widely accepted multi pass industry filter efficiency test, typical pleated paper oil filters average about 40% efficiency at 15 microns, meaning on multiple passes through the filter it caught about 40% of all the contaminants in the 15 micron size range.

On the same ISO test, oil filters using a paper/glass fiber blend caught an average of 80% of all particles in the 15 micron size range; a big increase in efficiency!

A few years ago though, an all new oil filter media was introduced to the automotive and light truck market. Using a space age synthetic NANO fiber this state of the art filter offers a level of efficiency not seen before in automotive oil filters.

On the ISO 4548-12 test this new space age filter media has proven to be 98.7% efficient at 20 microns. An order of magnitude better efficiency. It also has proven to be extremely efficient to below the 5-micron threshold that is most critical to preventing engine wear.

But what about that other really important feature of oil filter performance: dirt-holding capacity? How much contaminant the oil filter can hold before its full and oil flow is reduced to an un-satisfactory level.

Cellulose filters are limited in capacity by the very paper that makes up their filter media. Paper tends to have a hodge podge of varying size fibers and filaments that make up the small pores that the oil flows through.

Testing has shown that as much as 40% of the media in a cellulose filter passes nothing and is completely blocked severely reducing the capacity of the oil filter and the number of miles that it can be used.

Synthetic NANO fiber filters on the other hand have filaments that are very much smaller and are uniform in size and shape and 100% of the oil filters media is 100% flowable. This give the synthetic NANO fiber oil filter not only a 90% plus reduction in oil contaminants but the capacity to last 2 to 5 times longer in service.

But what do these numbers mean in the real world of motor oil cleanliness?

I recently performed an impromptu filter test on a friends 1998 Toyota Avalon just for the sake of my own curiosity.

At 81,000 miles my friend changed the oil on his car using a common brand of petroleum oil and an OEM filter. At 2000 miles I pulled a sample and had the particle count read using an industry standard pore blockage particle test.

We then installed a synthetic NANO fiber oil filter on the Toyota and after an additional 2000 miles pulled another sample and had it tested for particle count by the same pore block method, and by the same lab. The Results were astonishing!

OEM oil filter... NANO Fiber Oil filter 
@ 4 Microns = 1,864 particles... 121 particles 
@ 6 microns = 1,002 particles... 70 particles 
@14 microns = 173 particles... 9 particles 
@ 25 microns = 37 particles... 2 particles 
@ 50 microns = 5 particles... 0 particles 
@100 microns = 0 particles... 0 particles

As is obvious from this test, the synthetic NANO fiber oil filter reduced the oils sub 25-micron particle count by more than 90% and maintained that percentage of reduction below the critical 5-micron range where as the cellulose filter showed increasingly higher particle counts below 25-microns indicating much higher levels of abrasive contamination.

Significantly a sample of the oil taken "new-from- the-bottle" had an ISO cleanliness rating of 18/16/14. ISO rates oils cleanliness at 4-6-and 14 microns meaning out of the bottle the oil showed 18 particles in the 4 micron range, 16 particles in the 6 micron range and 14 particles in the 14 micron range.

After having been used in the Toyota for 4000 miles, the last 2000 with the synthetic NANO fiber oil filter, its ISO cleanliness rating tested 14/12/10 meaning the oil was cleaner after 4000 miles of use and being filtered through the NANO fiber oil filter than it was brand new in the bottle!

Do not construe this as saying that brand new motor oils are dirty. They are not, although all new motor oils contain some minuscule contaminants and some brands are much cleaner than others.

While this test I performed might be lacking in complete scientific controls for testing and it was performed on only one vehicle the results are consistent with those of hundreds of other well controlled industry studies and I believe the results would be easy for anyone in the oil/filter industry to duplicate.

SAE papers published by Cummins, Detroit Diesel and other engine makers have shown conclusively that reducing particles in the 5 to 25 micron range significantly reduces wear and can extend the engines life by 25% or more.

There are other advantages of the synthetic NANO fiber oil filter over its cellulose and cellulose/ glass fiber cousins. In subzero temperatures a cellulose filter can be completely blocked because condensation (water) in the oil freezes and expands inside of the filter medias fibers and blocks oil flow. The synthetic NANO media is not affected by condensation and freezing temperatures making it well suited to use in cold climates.

The NANO Fiber oil filter also can increase the life expectancy of the engines oil. Particulates in the oil are catalysts for oxidation so having a filter capable of removing most particulate matter will slow oxidation, help maintain the oils acid fighting abilities (TBN levels) and significantly extend the life of the motor oil.

The synthetic NANO fiber oil filter really offers it all when talking automotive filtration. Second to none contaminant removal and 3 to 5 times more capacity and service life making it a very cost effective purchase.Amsoil Inc introduced the first fully synthetic motor oil to meet American Petroleum Institute requirements in 1972. Today Amsoil is considered the world leader in synthetic lubrication and high tech automotive filtration.

In 2006 Amsoil introduced the industry leading EA synthetic NANO fiber oil filter.