Full-service mobile filtration solutions vs fixed installations

Companies exploring purification technologies can face a choice between full-service solutions based around mobile activated carbon filters, and fixed treatment facilities. Here, we explain the benefits of each option.

The advantages of mobile filtration service solutions

The key advantage of a full-service mobile solution is simplicity.

As all aspects of the activated carbon filtration solution are taken care of, the customer is freed up to focus on their core business. The client has just one point of contact, ensuring smooth operations at all times.

Furthermore, as the solution is provided as a service, the customer avoids the need to make an upfront investment.

As the European leader in mobile filtration solutions, DESOTEC provides the following services:

Pilots and tests: DESOTEC draws on its expertise to advise clients, and carry out lab tests to determine the best solutions. Pilot filters can be installed, then upscaled once they have proven effective, making this a low-risk option. By tweaking dimensions, customers may be able to save energy and lower running costs.

Flexibility: Mobile filters are modular: they can be exchanged for larger or smaller sizes; additional filters can be placed in parallel or series; and filters can be removed once no longer required. This flexibility is beneficial for clients whose production processes change.

Customers who invest in fixed technologies face a bigger risk, as their installation may prove to be inadequate, necessitating further expenditure.

Engineering: The process of getting water or air to either mobile or fixed filters requires piping, plus fans or pumps. These do entail additional capex costs.

24/7 service: A full-service solution should include round-the-clock support and troubleshooting. This is the case for DESOTEC, who can respond to urgent matters with expertise and mobile filters. With fixed filters, customers need to have in-house expertise, or arrange external support.

Filter exchanges: When the carbon inside the mobile filter is saturated, the entire unit can be swiftly exchanged. The customer needs only to disconnect the old filter and connect the new one: a simple, clean and safe process that requires just one member of staff and takes 30-60 minutes. Where it is essential that there is no downtime at all, two filters can be placed in a lead-lag configuration, with the second starting to function once the first is removed.

Companies with fixed filters need to arrange for the spent carbon to be vacuum extracted, and for the filter to be refilled with fresh carbon. This is likely to take two people several hours or even multiple days. Companies must also consider scaffolding, PPE and training to protect workers during the process, all of which carry opex costs. There is also a risk of emissions during the extraction process, which can be both hazardous to the environment and toxic to human health. Waste is handled on site, even if it is hazardous.

Waste: DESOTEC’s full-service solution includes the safe and sustainable handling of all waste. With a mobile solution, the spent carbon is transported away from the customer’s site in the closed filter unit, so no used carbon is released. This is particularly important for industries where cleanliness is of the utmost importance. The service handles all paperwork and permits.

Customers with fixed filters must arrange alternative waste disposal. They may need to store spent carbon on site, which requires safety training, protective equipment, and environmental permits.

Reactivation: Spent carbon from both fixed and mobile filters can often be reactivated, closing the loop and boosting sustainability.

Maintenance: DESOTEC will maintain, clean and repair filter units after exchanging them. Filters will also be upgraded to the newest version whenever appropriate.

With fixed filters, the company needs to arrange maintenance. If faults are found, it can lead to lengthy periods of production downtime while repairs are carried out.

Availability: DESOTEC always keeps filters in stock, so they can be delivered rapidly in an emergency or as an interim measure. Fixed filters are a major investment, requiring long lead-in times.

Research and development: DESOTEC is in continual dialogue with customers, and will seek to develop new filtration solutions to meet their needs where appropriate.

Permits: DESOTEC helps customers draw up the full scope they need to obtain environmental permits.

Alternatives to full-service filtration solutions

For some companies, a cost-benefit analysis may reveal that they can meet their purification needs by investing in a fixed installation.

Two alternatives to a full-service mobile filtration solution are as follows:

1. Fixed filters: Customers may choose to invest in a fixed mobile activated carbon filter. If rates of polluted flow are low, exchanges will be required only in exceptional cases, minimising disruption and waste at the site.

2. Regenerative Thermal Oxidisers (RTO): Where volumes of polluted emissions are very high, RTOs may be a more suitable solution than either mobile or fixed activated carbon filters, which would require frequent exchanges. However, RTOs are not best suited to discontinuous production, as they burn gas even when there is no flow requiring treatment. In this case, activated carbon may be a better solution.

Both the above cases require significant capex costs. It is also important that customers do not underestimate opex costs: ie the essentials that are included in a full-service solution, listed above.

Even when a fixed filter or RTO might be a viable option, many customers choose a full-service solution nonetheless. They are reassured by its simplicity: they have one point of contact for all their purification treatment needs, relieving them of this burden and ensuring smooth operation for their business.

3. Case studies


This client produces biogas from a closed landfill in Germany. Originally, two small fixed filters were installed, with carbon exchanges required every couple of weeks. This was proving excessive in terms of manpower, as there were very few personnel on site. DESOTEC replaced these filters with a larger mobile unit. Exchanges are far less frequent and much quicker, so the company does not need to increase manpower. This means the biogas valorisation process can continue with minimal input from personnel for far longer.


At this waste treatment facility in Belgium, the fixed filter became damaged. DESOTEC supplied a mobile filter as an interim measure to allow for the emptying, repairing and refilling of the original filter. The client decided to keep DESOTEC’s mobile filter and bypass the damaged one.


A Polish manufacturer was warned that a spike of surfactants meant its wastewater could not be treated at the municipal facility. The customer needed an urgent solution to avoid business interruption. DESOTEC installed a mobile filter within one week, which successfully reduced pollutant levels. The manufacturer plans to change production processes in the coming years, so is pleased to have an interim solution that does not require upfront investment.