Efficient Plant July/August 2020 - 18

feature | lubrication solutions

Controlling the
amount of water
contamination in
your lubricants will
extend rotatingequipment life.

When Water & Oil Mix,

Assets Suffer

FROM AN EARLY AGE, we learn that
oil and water do not mix. While that is
not exactly true in the lubrication world,
it is true to say that any degree of water in
a lubricant can cause irreparable harm to
lubricated components and the oil. When
water enters an oil sump or reservoir, it exists
in one of three distinct phases: dissolved,
free, or emulsified. While each pose different
challenges for lubricants, all three phases can
significantly reduce equipment life, cause
excessive maintenance costs, and lead to
unscheduled downtime.
As the name implies, dissolved water

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EP2007flube.indd 18

| EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

means that the water and oil form a solution.
While this may seem counterintuitive, since
water is chemically polar while oil is largely
non-polar, the presence of polar components
such as oil additives, degradation by-products, and/or other contaminants, can make it
possible for oil and water to mix. The amount
of water that can be dissolved in a new oil
is dependent on the type of base oil, the
amount and type of additives contained in
the oil, and the temperature.
For mineral oils or hydrocarbon-based
synthetic oils, the affinity of the base oil for
water is very low. However, for some base

Mark Barnes, PhD CMRP
Des-Case Corp.

oils, in particular API Group V base oils,
significant quantities of water can dissolve in
the oil due to the polar nature of these fluids.
Likewise, additives have an impact of the
solubility of water in oil. Oils that have small
additive quantities, such as turbine oils,
which contain less than 5% additives, are relatively resistant to water solubility. Oils that
contain large amounts of additives, such as
gear oils, hydraulic fluids, and engine oil, can
hold much higher concentrations of water in
the dissolved phase.
Similarly, temperature affects how much
water can dissolve in oil. At room tempera-

JUL/AUG 2020

7/15/20 2:25 PM


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Efficient Plant July/August 2020

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