Efficient Plant Jan./Feb. 2021 - 21

feature | lubrication solutions
Viscosity is usually reported
at 104 F (40 C) for industrial oils and 212 F (100 C)
for automotive-grade oils,
though measuring at both
temperatures is better. With
the two numbers, an oil's
viscosity index, or rate of
change with temperature,
can be calculated.
In engine-oil samples,
viscosity can help determine
if the oil is still within grade
and is a good indicator of fuel
dilution. In industrial fluids,
viscosity testing is less useful.
The rate of change of an industrial oil's viscosity over time is
far less pronounced. Typically,
viscosity will not change until
an oil has less than 10% of its remaining life;
long after sludge, varnish, and other deposits
start to form. Viscosity testing of industrial
fluids is really about ensuring that the correct
oil grade is in use and that cross contamination has not occurred.

ACID AND BASE NUMBERS
Acid- and base-number testing, sometimes
collectively referred to as neutralization
numbers, measures the acidity or alkalinity
of a sample. Acid Number (AN) measures
the buildup up of acid byproducts. It's often
related to oxidative decay. As such, it is one
indicator that can be used to gauge oil
health. In engine applications, particularly
natural-gas engines, an oil's AN can also be
used to measure the presence of acidic
combustion byproducts.
Base Number (BN) is used almost
exclusively for engine-oil analysis. The test
measures the amount of over-base detergent
additives in the oil. While historically it's
been used to measure additive health to facilitate condition-based engine-oil changes, the
BN test has become slightly less important

JAN/FEB 2021

EP2101flube.indd 21

of KF testing should be
used to avoid additive
interference.

Evaluating oil-analysis
report information, such
as viscosity, wear metals,
particle counts, and water
contamination, will go a long
way toward full understanding
of conditions that are affecting
machine operations. Photo
courtesy Polaris Laboratories, Indianapolis
(polarislabs.com)

with the adoption of low and ultra-low sulfur
fuels. AN and BN tests require a representative new oil reference for comparison.

WATER
Water is an insidious contaminant that can
cause rust and corrosion, as well as alter oilfilm thickness. As such, detecting water in an
oil sample and controlling moisture ingress is
an important consideration.
There are several water-test techniques,
ranging from a simple hot plate test
commonly known as a " crackle test, " to
sophisticated methods, such as Karl Fischer
(KF) analysis. Since oils are hydroscopic,
all samples will show some water contamination. The key is to measure and control
water levels below the saturation point at
all in-service oil temperatures. In practical
terms, this means less than 100 ppm for
turbine-type oils, less than 150 ppm for
hydraulic fluids and other oils with AW additives, and less than 250 ppm for gear oils.
Because of these relatively low detection
limits, the most reliable test method is the
KF method. For very low levels and/or very
accurate results, the co-distillation method

ISO PARTICLE
COUNTING

Depending on
applications, most
lubrication experts
recognize that anywhere between 50% and
80% of lubrication-related
problems are directly or indirectly due to
particle contamination. Because of this, ISO
particle counting should be routine on all
samples, perhaps with the exception of engine-oil samples. A test report should count
particles in three size ranges: >4 microns,
>6 microns, and >14 microns, based on the
ISO 4406 reporting standard.
While several methods can be used to
determine an oil's ISO particle count, most
labs use optical-laser particle counters. Caution should be exercised when interpreting
ISO particle counts from optical counters
since interferences such as water, " soft "
particles from oil degradation, and additive
" floc " can affect the reported ISO codes.
Alongside vibration analysis, thermography, and ultrasonic testing, in-service oil
analysis is an integral part of a proactive
condition-monitoring strategy. Like any test
measurement, the diagnosis is only as good
as the data. Make sure you take time to learn
the " language " of oil analysis, visit your lab
to ensure their methodologies are up to date
and accurate and, most of all, ensure that the
sample you send to the lab is taken from the
right location and is representative of the oil
that's lubricating the components. EP
Mark Barnes, CMRP, is Senior Vice President at Des-Case Corp., Goodlettsville, TN
(descase.com). He has 21 years of experience
in lubrication management, oil analysis, and
contamination control.
EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM |

21

1/26/21 12:36 PM


http://www.polarislabs.com http://www.descase.com http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

Efficient Plant Jan./Feb. 2021

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