South Africa filtration company Filter Focus reports that although oil disposal – which in most cases is a completely unnecessary practice – often has harmful repercussions for the environment, technologies do exist to make dramatic improvements to the current situation; it just needs to be implemented.
The company emphasises that the standard-isation and measurablity of oil means that less of it will need to be disposed of, as less of it will need to be used.
Further, the company states that attention to detail is paramount in achieving cleanliness levels in oil, which, in turn, will produce extensive improvements in machine life and availablity. “When it comes to machine life, lubricant cleanup has proven to be one of the simpler and more cost-effective methods of achieving measurable improvements,” it adds.
Quantifying Oil Cleanlines
Meanwhile, Filter Focus says by adhering to international quality practices, companies become more competitive owing to maintainance cost savings.
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has developed a code system that establishes the relationship between particle counts and cleanliness, quantifying contaminant levels by particle size in micrometers (µm).
Using ISO 4406, a machine owner/operator can set simple limits for excessive contamination levels, based on quantifiable cleanliness measurements. This standard enables current particulate cleanliness levels to be quantified and targets for cleanup to be set.
Cleanliness of Oil
Each machine should be evaluated for cleanliness levels appropriate to the applica-tion. Machines with tight clearances and/or antifriction (rolling element) bearings benefit greatly from clean oil. Turbine electrohydraulic control systems and many aero derivative gas turbines are examples of industrial machines that require extremely clean oil for proper performance and long life. Filter systems rated to remove particles as small as 3 µm to 7 µm are commonly used in such applications. Hydraulic systems’ targets should also be adjusted to cleaner levels for higher system operating pressures.
Benefits of Clean Oil
Studies performed in many industries all show dramatic extensions in expected machinery life by improving lubricant cleanliness. In one example, a reduction of particles larger than 10 µm from 1 000/mℓ to 100/mℓ resulted in a fivefold increase in machine life – an attractive return on a cleanup investment.
An additional benefit of cleaner oil is a lower noise floor for wear particle detection measurements. “It is much easier to detect subtle changes in the amount of wear debris in a clean system than in a dirty one,” the company notes.
Society of Automotive Engineers studies have shown engine wear reductions of 50% when filtering crankcase oil to 30 µm, and 70% when filtering to 15 µm, as compared with filtering to 40 µm.