Oil analyses

Engine oils, gear oils, hydraulic oils, compressor oils, transformer oils, turbine oils - the list of applications where oil analyses are advantageous is almost endless.

To get the most important information about your lubricant and equipment, our extensive tests are packaged into packages tailored to the lubricant type and its application.

Oil analyses is key for condition monitoring.

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With ICP-OES (Optical Emission Spectroscopy) more than 20 different elements can be measured simultaneously. A special pump brings the diluted oil sample into an atomizer where it is atomized with a powerful argon stream. This mixture then passes into an argon plasma, which atomizes and ionizes the sample and stimulates the elements so that they release the absorbed energy in the form of light. Each element can only absorb a specific, characteristic amount of energy and thus generate a characteristic wavelength of light. The intensity of this light is in turn directly proportional to the amount present.

The amount of wear elements determined in a sample can give direct information about wear of the machine and depends very much on the respective application. They can even vary from machine to machine for a specific machine part.  Therefore, the required information and guidelines for each machine / unit should be developed individually through a regular check. The condition monitoring not only considers the currently measured values, but also the sudden CHANGE of the average values.

Here are some examples of what high values can stand for:

  • Fe - iron: general wear of the machine
  • Si - silicon: dirt, dust
  • Na - sodium: entry of cooling water
  • Cr - chrome: wear of bearings
  • Cu - copper: wear on bearings, piston pins and clutch discs

By visual inspection we can quickly detect coarse contamination of the lubricating oil. Large metal and dirt particles as well as foreign bodies are too large to be analysed using the ICP-OES method. They would be overlooked. To simplify the description, we have defined an arbitrary scale that distinguishes between the different types of visual contamination of the oil. This scale also appears on the back of each laboratory report and is defined as follows:

Rating description of the visual lubricant analysis:

  • 10 - clear and free of impurities
  • 20 - dark
  • 30 - slightly cloudy
  • 40 - cloudy
  • 50 - milky
  • 60 - free water visible
  • 70 - solid deposits
  • 80 - solid deposits and free water

The OCI measures the conductivity of engine oils. It indicates contamination by soot and other conductive substances in the oil, e.g. water or iron particles. A random scale from 9 to 40 is used for classification. A value of 9 - 11 is typical for a fresh oil, values up to 28 indicate a serviceable used oil. Values higher than 28, on the other hand, indicate a possible problem. Our diagnostic engineer examines the increased OCI values and will evaluate the sample accordingly.

Viscosity is the fluidity / flowability of an oil. For this purpose, the time required by a certain quantity of oil to flow through a precisely defined distance in a calibrated viscometer tube under the influence of gravity is measured. These determinations are important to determine the correct viscosity class for the used oil, e.g. SAE 30 or SAE 15W-40 or ISO-VG 46. Minor changes during use are normal, but significant deviations must be detected and reported.

Viscosity changes may indicate one or more of the following problems:

  • Overheating
  • Fuel input
  • High proportion of insoluble residues
  • Very strong oxidation and ageing
  • General contamination
  • Incorrect viscosity

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