Turbines are extremely critical, high precision and expensive pieces of equipment. Turbines are key to electrical power generation and other sophisticated systems such as jet engines.
Briefly described, turbines consist of a shaft with blades attached to it and propelled at very high speed by a flow of high velocity water (in liquid or steam phase) or gas.
There are four main causes to turbine oil degradation:
- Oxidation due to interaction with oxygen.
- Thermal degradation. High operating temperature The oil can be exposed to temperatures in a turbine that cause base oil and additive molecules to chemically change. The result of this reaction is the formation of materials that are not readily soluble in the oil. The materials then deposit within the oil system causing deposits, and in some cases, equipment failures.
- Contamination: water is the main concern in hydropower and steam turbines (where water is boiled by nuclear fission, coal, gas, fuel).In gas turbines (jet engines, turboprops), the main concern is contamination resulting from dust absorption, wear metals and oil degradation products.
- Additive depletion mainly anti-oxidants, demulsifiers and antifoam additives.
Two tests are recommended to monitor the condition of turbine oil: The RPVOT and the RULER®test. The RPVOTmeasures the lubricant’s resistance to oxidation and sludge formation. The Remaining Useful Life Evaluation Routine (RULER®) test measures the oxidative resistance levels of oil. This test can determine the remaining useful life of used oil by comparing its anti-oxidative concentration (oxidation inhibitors) with those of new oil.
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