Pore Size in Automotive Components


The automotive industry is just one of the many sectors that regularly make use of instruments for the measurement of pore size and other pore characteristics. Perhaps the most obvious components for which information on pore structure is needed – but not the only ones – are the various filters that play vital roles in the functioning of a vehicle.

Oil and air filters in the engine come immediately to mind. Then there are filters associated with the ventilation and air conditioning systems. Going more deeply into a vehicle’s construction, we find components such as sintered metal filters.

In every case, the performance of the filter is determined largely by its porous nature and by various measurable characteristics. As well as pore size and volume, these include the distribution of the pores and permeability of the filter material to gases and liquids.

The range of instruments available to measure these characteristics is wide and varied, as you will see if you visit the PMI website. Each instrument is designed to meet specific needs, and often a combination of equipment is needed for full characterisation of the materials.

One particularly useful instrument is the capillary flow porometer, which can be used to assess the through-pores which influence the transport of fluids through the filter. Another essential measurement obtained using a porometer is the pore throat diameter. This is an important factor in predicting how the material will retain fluid and affect the performance of a filter.

Components made from sintered metal can be found in various parts of the systems for maintaining the engine, its fuel and its oil. In this case, permeability is a key factor. Porometers are used in characterising these structures and a host of non-woven materials used in vehicles, including air bags and interior components. Another component in which pore characteristics need to be determined is the catalytic converter, for which a porosimeter is one of the instruments applied.

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