American Filtration & Separations Society (AFS)

American Filtration & Separations Society (AFS)

This is the acronym for the American Filtration & Separations Society, a technical educational nonprofit organization started in 1987 to provide a forum for exchange of information among engineers, scientists, and technologists in all areas of the fluid/particle separation field. AFS is managed by a Board of Directors consisting of 12 elected directors, 6 officers, and the presidents of all active chapters. Each spring the Annual Technical Conference & Expo is sponsored to present over 100 papers on a wide-ranging list of subjects. Included each year is the AFS Filtration Basics Short Course. The goal of this study is to help the reader form a comprehensive understanding of the recent advances in nonwoven filter media manufacturing, its commercial applications, and worldwide markets. The expo showcasing industry related products and services by 75 exhibitors is organized. Topical conferences on specific topics are held annually in the summer and/or fall.

Company details

529 Myatt Drive , Madison , TN 37511 USA


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Business Type:
Nonprofit organization (NPO)
Industry Type:
Water Filtration and Separation
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
Year Founded:

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Importance of Education

The AFS Society has predicated its existence on the dissemination of information, education, and the encouragement of research. It is developing a university textbook for high level separations technology. Two research grants, pairing universities with industry, were granted in 1998. Student poster competitions are an integral part of the annual technical conferences, while longer range plans call for expanded activities on the broad field of education. An education endowment has been established in 1998 to fund future activities.

What Technologies?

Strong emphasis is given to both liquid and gas separations. Perhaps the major thrust is on filtration processes involving the use of permeable barrier to effect separation. Other concepts receive careful study, especially procedures involving the separation of particles from liquid by non-barrier techniques.

Within these fields are areas of interest involving the hardware, the appropriate filter media, the overall system and its operation, product evaluation and monitoring, instrumentation, ancillary products such as supports, resins and adhesives, requirements for specific applications, safety and health aspects, selection protocols, and particle science and characterization.

Understanding the basic aspects of the processes, and the mathematical modeling of these operations will play an important role in improved design and operation.

Who Belongs to AFS?

Membership is drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds, including end users, marketing and distribution engineers, product designers, research scientists, raw material designers, company management, consultants, academicians, and officials of government. Thus the interest runs from the extremely theoretical to applied engineering.

Local Chapters of AFS

Regional chapters present talks to groups organized throughout North America. Chapters include: Canada, Northwest, New England, Empire State, Mid-Atlantic, Pittsburgh, Great Lakes, Midwest, North Central, Dixie, Cumberland, Southwest, and Gold & Silver States. Membership in National AFS automatically brings membership in a chapter in your region.

Networking With Others

In addition to education and professional advancements, members appreciate the opportunity to network and link with other industry professionals and peers. Many members feel that building these personal relationships contributes to their individual success.

Membership Details

Individual membership in the AFS is available for $125/year (US), $125/year (Canada, Mexico) and $125/year (outside North America). It includes membership in a local chapter, subscription to the Filtration Journal, AFS Newsletter and reduced registration fees for the various conferences. Corporate memberships can also be obtained to allow a company to join with leading names in the industry for the support and development of AFS activities.


Due to AFS’s association with the industry’s leading magazines, our members receive a complimentary subscription to Filtration News, an Eagle Press publication. Members also have the opportunity to subscribe to Filtration & Separation, an Elsevier Trends Division publication, at nearly half price.


The American Filtration and Separation Society was established in 1987 when a committed group of leaders articulated a vision to form a society for the benefit of individuals and sponsoring companies involved in the filtration industry. This core of individuals took on the risks and responsibilities of establishing and promoting the benefits of AFS to potential constituents of the society.

Recognizing the founders of the society: Larry Avery, Fred Chapnick, Ed Gregor, Ric Herrera, James Joseph, Len Ortino, Lew Osterhoudt, Harry Sanstedt, Wells Shoemaker, Gordon Smith, Frank Tiller and Scott Yaeger.

Mission Statement

The American Filtration and Separations Society is an educational, nonprofit organization that provides a forum for networking and the exchange of technical knowledge within academia and industry in all areas of filtration and separation.

Vision Statement

Be the leading resource for academic and industry-based professionals in all areas of filtration and separation.

  • Promote Continuing Education and Training through a variety of methods.
  • Expand membership/participation to encompass all regions of North America.
  • Expand global audience participation and increase international influence.

The Formative Years

  • Dr. Frank Tiller, University of Houston, organizes the first of 13 filtration symposia in 1952, in Cleveland, OH.
  • At the 1962 symposium, Wells Shoemaker and Frank Tiller meet.
  • The Filtration Society (TFS) is founded in England in 1963. In 1966, Dr. Tiller becomes a member in of TFS while forming the Texas Filtration Society, which shortly thereafter becomes the first international chapter of TFS.
  • Shortly thereafter, other TFS chapters are formed including Stan Lindberg in Chicago (1967), Larry Avery in New York (1968) and Wells Shoemaker in Pennsylvania (1968). In the early 1970’s Shoemaker then formed several chapters; Delaware Valley headed by Jim Flood, New England, lead by Jud Brown, Dixie, with Norris Whiteside, California (LA and Bay area) by Henry Schneider and Gene Franks respectively and Larry Schwartz at the Great Lakes chapter. The North Central chapter followed in with late 1970’s with Ric Herrera taking the lead.
  • Wells Shoemaker, created the first of many regional Conferences in 1972, bringing together the New York, Delaware Valley and New Jersey chapters.
  • Shoemaker and Norris Whiteside traveled to Manchester England for a council meeting where they presented two proposals. First, it was the desire of the leadership of the American Chapters to band together as the 'American Program Committee' (APC) for the express purposes of staging national meetings. Second, it was the desire of the Americans to stage the 3rd World Filtration Congress in 1982 under the sponsorship of the APC group. Both proposals were accepted.
  • The APC was then organized later in 1978, with Shoemaker serving as Chairman. Later that year he was installed as Chairman of The Filtration Society at the World Filtration Congress 2 in London. Then, began a series of national Conferences in the United States including Valley Forge, Princeton, Monterey and Easton that culminated with the World Filtration Congress 3, in Downingtown, PA in the fall of 1982.
  • Later, APC Conferences returned to Monterey, Flint and Hershey. Harry Sandstedt was elected as the second American International Chairman of TFS in 1984. Wells Shoemaker was presented with a life membership in The Filtration Society in 1985.
  • During the 1970's to the mid 80's United States membership grew to 52 percent of the worldwide TFS Membership. TFS had 33 percent, the rest divided around the world. In 1982 Bill Norris retired from his long time post in England as Secretary to serve as Chairman of TFS.
  • With less experienced English secretarial leadership, the strong bonds between the Americans and the English began to suffer, brought on by financial matters, communication problems, and recognition of the special needs in American and lack of local empowerment.

AFS Founded

  • During a visit by Shoemaker and Fred Chapnick to Loughborough, England in February 1987, these and other problems were discussed and shortly thereafter a special meeting of the governing board of the APC and the English Council was convened in Ocean City, MD. A frank discussion of current and possible future relationships was discussed, but no action from TFS followed. After a series of summer 1987 meetings at Gelman Sciences, Inc.
  • in Ann Arbor, MI and in Meriden, CT, members of the APC and other interested parties, again met to discuss how to achieve its overall objectives and to create a group 'affiliated' with TFS, but independent and self-governing. Still no reply from England. Subsequently, on September 16, 1987, the AFC met in the Conference room at the Donaldson Company in Minneapolis and formed the American Filtration Society.
  • Scott Yaeger was elected as the first AFS Chairman, Ric Herrera as First Vice Chairman, Ed Gregor as Second Vice Chairman, Phil Avery as Treasurer and Wells Shoemaker as Secretary. On that day, the Corporate Sponsors membership program was formed with two memberships, one from Filterex, Inc. (Shoemaker's company) and the other from Len Ortino, President, Michigan Dynamics, Inc. Plans were made for our first AFS Meeting and Conference in Ocean City, MD the following spring with Wells Shoemaker, once again, taking the Conference leadership responsibility.

Structuring the AFS

  • The treasurers responsibilities have been generously handled on a by Phil Avery for the 10 years until 1987. A. J. Palermo followed for 7 years, Les White for 4 years, with Faith Levine serving since 1998. Wells Shoemaker administrated the secretarial function on an honorary basis until 1989 when Guy Weismantel was hired. Charlotte Stripling assumed this responsibility in 1994 as AFS Administrative Manager. Mayberry & Associates followed in 2001 with Dr. Wenping Li in 2003 serving as Acting Executive Manager, followed by Horizon Visuals, Inc. with Suzanne Sower, as Executive Manager beginning in September 2004.
  • In 1993, the American Filtration Society was renamed the American Filtration & Separations Society and remains the largest organization in the world devoted exclusively to the science, education and training in filtration and fluid / particle separation. With the name change and Board declaration, the initials AFS remain the official abbreviation of the American Filtration & Separations Society.
  • The AFS, once again, maintains good relations with TFS in England and welcomes TFS visitors to our annual Conferences. Included was the World Filtration Congress 9 held in New Orleans in the spring of 2004 when Ed Gregor served as AFS Chairman for the second time. We have a lot in common with the TFS, including the many professional and personal relationships, which have developed over the years, including an Agreement linking the AFS and TFS creating a joint international technical journal FILTRATION beginning January 2005.

A Tradition of Volunteerism

  • Going forward with an expanding AFS agenda, we should not lose sight of the many professionals in American filterdom, not mentioned earlier, who made important contributions to our early spirit and the heritage in forming the American organization, which guides us today. Included are Pat Carey, Shiao-Hung Chiang, Alex Cirillo, Pam Edenfeld, Tony Flannery, Ed Frederick, Humphrey Gilbert, Jim Joseph, Rod Knight, Richard Lessman, Ernie Mayer, Ted Meltzer, Arvid Molitor, Don Olds, Len Ortino, Clarke Rodman, Rob Schaller, Tony Shucosky, Gordon Smith and Steve Wolff.
  • As the AFS approaches its 20th year, over 50 years since Dr. Tiller held his first symposium in Cleveland and nearly 40 years since Wells Shoemaker began forming chapters, the AFS continues to seek members willing to step forward for future leadership positions at the local and national level to carry on our tradition of achievement.

Those interested in volunteering are welcomed and encouraged to attend AFS Board meetings to meet the industry leaders and Who’s Who and contribute by carrying the torch in the fashion of Dr. Frank Tiller and Wells Shoemaker, and the other founders and the elected leadership since the AFS formation in 1987.