Scan of the month June – Happy World Environment Day!

Blog, Computed Tomography, X-ray and CT Inspection

Our scan of the month is in honour of World Environment Day.

The United Nations started World Environment Day in 1973 and runs the event every year on 5 June. The day aims to raise awareness and drive action from millions of people across the globe to protect our environment.

In 2023, motor vehicles are still one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions and a major source of air pollution. So, we have scanned a vital component in controlling vehicle emissions – the air filter. We scanned both a new and used air filter to highlight the differences.

Scan of a used air filter where you can clearly see the impurities
Scan of a used air filter where you can clearly see the impurities
Scan of a new, clean air filter without any impurities
Scan of a new, clean air filter without any impurities

Air filters prevent impurities from entering the engine. Fine particles, sand or even insects could clog the engine and reduce its performance. The air filter also ensures the engine gets the correct air-fuel mixture. Engines need seven times more oxygen than fuel to complete the combustion process and move the vehicle.

By delivering the perfect balance of air and fuel, the air filter increases the effectiveness of combustion, optimises engine performance. This results in lower fuel consumption and emissions, and helps manufacturers comply with emission limit regulations.

When an air filter becomes clogged, insufficient air reaches the engine. Power then decreases considerably, and fuel consumption increases noticeably (by 10 to 25%), which leads to greater environmental pollution. Therefore, it is essential you change the air filter every 20 000 km or once a year (whichever is sooner).

Scan of a new, clean air filter showing the filter insert folded details
Internal scan of a new air filter
Scan of a used engine air filter showing the filter insert folded details, showing impurities
Internal scan of a used air filter with impurities


James Finch, Application Engineer X-ray & CT, performed the scans and gained at 65.5µm Voxel resolution using a Nikon C2 Large Envelope System (LES). The system houses three X-ray sources (Nikon 450 kV microfocus with Rotating.Target 2.0, Varian 450 kV minifocus, and Nikon 225 kV microfocus with interchangeable rotating and reflection targets) and two detectors (a flat panel and a Nikon curved linear diode array).

We also used the X.Tend (Nikon’s advanced approach to Helical CT) and Rotating.Target 2.0. The detector captured 7197 projections (2 frames per projection) at an exposure time of 500 ms and a gain of 6 dB. Because of the higher number of projections, the total scan time was 2 hours. However, with a fully configurable number of projections, our X-ray CT scan speeds can be as low as 1 minute.

Scan of a used car engine air filter clogged up with impurities
A clogged air filter that needs replacing

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