Oil Tests

Analytical Ferrography is one of the most effective and versatile tools to detect large wear particle (larger than 10 microns) analysis. The test can be performed on dissolved grease to visually determine the types and amount of wear particles. This test provides additional information on the mechanism, location and extent of wear and any contaminants.
Accurate determination of the density, relative density (specific gravity), or API gravity of petroleum products low viscosity transparent liquidsis necessary for the conversion of measured volumes to volumes or masses, or both, at the standard reference temperatures of 15 °C or 60 °F during custody transfer.Density is an important quality indicator for automotive, aviation and marine fuels, where it affects storage, handling and combustion.
Chip analysis identifies alloy chips found in aircraft components. This test can locate the failure of gears, bearings and more, provided their alloy composition is known. The composition of chips found on magnetic plugs or through patch testing is identified using the ICP (inductively coupled plasma) method and are reported using the AMS (Aerospace Material Specification) number. Tribologik is certified for chip analysis by Pratt & Whitney Canada for their engines.
Copper Corrosion uses a strip tarnish test to detect copper corrosion from petroleum products on yellow metals. Copper Corrosion assesses the relative degree of corrosiveness of a petroleum product due to active sulfur compounds. Results are rated by comparing the stains on a copper strip to a color-match scale from 1a to 4c. This test is widely used on turbine, hydraulic and gear oils.
Color, odor, clarity, precipitate and foam may serve as an indication of the degree of use of the fluid. Precipitate is a solid formed in the fluid by contamination. Foaming can result from excessive agitation, improper fluid levels, air leaks, contamination or cavitation.
This test method covers measurement of the ability of petroleum oils or synthetic fluids to separate from water. Developed specifically for steam-turbine oils, this method may also be used to test oils of other types.
Direct Reading measures the amount of ferrous wear debris in an oil sample to indicate the change in the rate and severity of wear from the components of the machine. The results of DR give the amount of particles both greater, and less than, 5 microns in size in a 1 ml oil sample. The index value, total wear particle concentration (WPC) and the percentage of large particles (PLP).
This test method covers the rapid determination of 22 elements in used and unused lubricating oils and base oils, and it provides rapid screening of used oils for indications of wear. When the predominant source of additive elements in used lubricating oils is the additive package, significant differences between the concentrations of the additive elements and their respective specifications can indicate that the incorrect oil is being used. The concentrations of wear metals can be indicative of abnormal wear if there are baseline concentration data for comparison. A marked increase in boron, sodium, or potassium levels can be indicative of contamination as a result of coolant leakage in the equipment. This test method can be used to monitor equipment condition and define when corrective actions are needed.
This test method covers three procedures for determining the evaporation loss of lubricating oils (particularly engine oils).The evaporation loss is of particular importance in engine lubrication. Where high temperatures occur, portions of an oil can evaporate. Evaporation may contribute to oil consumption in an engine and can lead to a change in the properties of an oil. Many engine manufacturers specify a maximum allowable evaporation loss. Some quote this test method along with the specifications. Procedure C also permits collection of the volatile oil vapors for determination of their physical and chemical properties. Elemental analysis of the collected volatiles may be helpful in identifying components such as phosphorous, which has been linked to premature degradation of the emission system catalyst.
Ferrous Debris Monitor uses magnetometry to measure the wear metal particle contamination of an oil or grease sample and provides trendable parts per million (PPM) results, regardless of the size of the particles. Because its results are provided in PPM, FDM is regarded as an advanced PQ test. The latter indeed only shows them as a unitless index. FDM can be used to measure un-combined ferrous wear metal particle debris in oil or grease in a wide range of types of industrial and marine machinery.
The closed cup method determines flash point of fuels and liquids containing suspended solids and liquids that tend to form a surface film during testing. This method is extensively used in the transport industries and safety regulations for detection of contamination by volatile and flammable materials in fuel oils and for characterization of hazardous waste samples.
The Flash Point Open Cup test determines the temperature in degrees Celsius at which the sample lubricant flashes when exposed to an open flame. It detects contamination of relatively non-volatile materials with volatile materials. Flash Point is used in shipping and safety regulations to define and classify flammable and combustible materials.
The tendency of oils to foam can be a serious problem in systems such as high-speed gearing, high-volume pumping, and splash lubrication. Inadequate lubrication, cavitation, and overflow loss of lubricant can lead to mechanical failure. This test method covers the determination of the foaming characteristics of lubricating oils for such operating conditions.
FTIR Spectroscopy is a statistical analysis technique that provides information about the chemical bonding or molecular structure of materials. The analysis provides an early warning of fluid degradation and contamination. The presence of chemical degradation products due to oxidation, nitration, sulfate formation, lube breakdown, and anti-wear additive depletion, and contaminants such as soot, water, ethylene glycol and unburned fuel is used to measure the degradation of the oil. Oxidation: Oil exposed to oxygen from the air at elevated temperature will oxidize to a variety of compounds, the majority of which are carbonyl compounds including carboxylic acids. These substances contribute to the acidity of the oil, depleting the basic additives present in the oil and contributing to corrosion. Nitration: Nitrogen oxides are produced by the oxidation of atmospheric nitrogen during the combustion process. It increases the oil viscosity and is the major cause of the build-up of varnish or lacquer. Sulfate: Sulfur oxides are produced by the combustion of sulfur compounds present in the fuel and can react with water to form sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid is neutralized by the oil’s basic additives, forming inorganic sulfates. Lube breakdown I&II: The base stock breakdown in synthetic lube is monitored in two regions: region I indicates that the breakdown products are mostly composed of weakly hydrogen bonded alcohol or acid groups; region II is due to the numerous hydrogen bonded by-products formed the polyester lubricant. Together with ICP Spectroscopy and Viscosity, FTIR figures amongst the three basic tests always performed on each oil sample in order to detect the condition of the lubricant.
Fuel Dilution measures the relative percentage of unburned diesel or gasoline fuel present in an engine lubricant, which indicates maladjusted or malfunctioning fuel system assemblies. Excessive fuel dilution lowers lubricant load-carrying capacities, promotes lubricant breakdown, lowers viscosity, and increases the risk of fire or explosion.
Gas chromatography can determine the glycol concentration in used transmission fluid quantitatively. Values acquired can be trended to alert a potential problem such as increased machine wear, corrosion, slug and lubrication breakdown.
The Glycol Test determines the presence of ethylene glycol used in mineral based lubricating oils. A positive result is often associated with cooling system leaks, which will promote wear, corrosion, slugging and lubricant breakdown. If coolant additives or water contamination is present in the oil sample, a separate chemical test using reagents in tablet form is used to confirm ethylene glycol contamination.
The Crackle Test detects the presence of free and emulsified water in oil. Using a hot plate, this simple method has a minimum detection limit of 1000 ppm (0.1%) of water-in-oil and results are reported as positive or negative. The presence of water in a non-water-based-fluid indicates contamination from an outside source or from condensation. Excessive levels of water promote lubricant breakdown and component corrosion.
Elemental Analysis by ICP (inductively coupled plasma) is applicable to lubricants, coolants, fuel and grease. Spectroscopy (as it often referred to) detects up to 23 elements that can be present in used fluids due to mechanical wear, contamination or additive depletion. Spectrometric analysis is an effective method for monitoring small particles. Severe wear particles larger than 6 microns cannot be detected accurately. Together with FTIR and Viscosity, ICP Spectroscopy figures amongst the basic tests always performed on each oil sample. Through its ability of detecting wear metal particles, Spectroscopy is effective in detecting not only the condition of the lubricant but also the condition of the equipment and its components. Wear metals include: iron, copper, lead, tin, chromium, aluminum, silver, nickel, magnesium, vanadium, titanium, cadmium, molybdenum and manganese. Contaminants include: silicon, boron, aluminum, sodium, and potassium. Additives include: lithium, phosphorous, zinc, calcium, barium, boron, sodium, molybdenum, magnesium, silicon and aluminum.
The Karl Fischer Water Titration Test is used for components and applications where water contamination can cause severe lubricant breakdown and must be kept extremely low. The Karl Fischer titration method measures and reports water content as a percentage (e.g. 0.005% = 50 ppm).
The dielectric breakdown voltage of an insulating liquid measures the liquid's ability to withstand electric stress without failure. It indicates the presence of contaminating agents such as water, dirt, cellulosic fibers, or conducting particles in the liquid, one or more of which may be present in significant concentrations when low breakdown voltages are obtained. This test method covers the determination of the dielectric breakdown voltage of insulating liquids (oils of petroleum origin, silicone fluids, high fire-point mineral electrical insulating oils, synthetic ester fluids and natural ester fluids). It is applicable to insulating liquids commonly used in cables, transformers, oil circuit breakers, and similar apparatus as an insulating and cooling medium. Refer to Terminology D2864 for definitions used in this test method.
The US, Canadian and EU regulations mandate that electrical apparatus and electrical insulating fluids containing PCB be handled and disposed of through specific procedures. The procedure to be used for a particular apparatus or quantity of insulating fluid is determined by the PCB content of the fluid. This test method describes a quantitative determination of the concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in electrical insulating liquids by gas chromatography. The results are useful in selecting the appropriate handling and disposal procedure.
Electrical characteristics of an insulating liquid may be affected deleteriously by excessive water content.This test method covers the measurement of water present in insulating liquids by coulometric Karl Fischer titration.
The National Aerospace Standards (NAS) are voluntary standards developed by the aerospace industry. This specification establishes the acceptance cleanliness limits of hydraulic fluid wetting internal surfaces of parts, assemblies, lines and fittings for use in hydraulic systems prior to storage and/or assembly.
Particle Counting counts particle sizes greater than 4, 6, 14, 25, 50, and 100 symbol microns in size and are reported through the ISO Cleanliness Code, ISO 4406. If water is present at levels greater than 300 p.p.m., particle counting is unachievable. Particle counting is applicable to oil (PC) and fuel (PCF).
The particle quantifier index test measures the mass of ferrous wear debris in a sample and displays this as PQ index by Hall Effect regardless the particle size. PQ index is a unitless quantitative number and can be trended with acceptable linearity over a wide range of ferrous debris content and particle sizes. The larger the index the greater the ferrous wear content.
The Patch Test determines the level of solid particulate matter (metal and non metal) derived from the aviation filter by filtration method. The presence of contaminants will cause accelerated equipment wear.
Pentane Insolubles are wear metal contaminants derived from the oxidation of resins, dust, soot and other similar materials. Coagulated pentane insolubles can plug oil filters, resulting in unfiltered oil circulating in the engine leading to piston deposits, bearing wear and engine failure.
The Pour Point is the lowest temperature at which a fuel or oil sample shows no movement when placed at a 90° angle to horizontal. The pour point is an important factor in engine startup and fuel/oil pumping during frigid temperatures.
Quantitative Spectrophotometric Analysis extracts and measures insoluble contaminants formed as a result of lubricant degradation. These by-products of used oil form a varnish, which builds up on surfaces of equipment, impeding performance and leading to mechanical breakdown. QSA examines the separated material with a spectrophotometer and measures the color and intensity of the insoluble and is reported by the CIE dE value.
The RPVOT, previously known as the RBOT measures the lubricant’s resistance to oxidation and sludge formation by submitting the oil sample to high stress conditions such as high temperature, high pressure, water, oxygen and a copper catalyst coil. The oxidation stability assesses the remaining oxidation test life of in-service oils by comparison to new oil.
The Remaining Useful Life Evaluation Routine (RULER®) test measures the oxidative resistance levels of mineral and synthetic hydrocarbon oils, ester-based and biodegradable oils. This test can determine the remaining useful life of used oil by comparing its anti-oxidative concentration (oxidation inhibitors) with those of new oil. The RULER® can be used proactively in order to determine proper oil change intervals and to extend oil change intervals through timely antioxidant additive replenishments. In addition, the RULER® can be used to quantify antioxidant levels of incoming and stored oil supplies and to detect abnormal operating conditions prior to equipment failure signaled by abrupt antioxidant depletion rates.
This test method covers the voltammetric determination of hindered phenol and aromatic amine antioxidants in new or in-service type non-zinc turbine oils. In a new turbine oil it measures the amount of these compounds that has been added to the oil as protection against oxidation. In in-service oil, it measures the amount of original antioxidants remaining after oxidation has reduced its initial concentration.
Seta Flash Point Closed-Cup uses a small-scale closed tester to determine the actual flash point temperature of a sample. The flash point can indicate the possible presence of highly volatile and flammable materials in a relatively nonvolatile or nonflammable material. Flash point is used in shipping and safety regulations to define and classify flammable and combustible materials.
Ash content is the percentage by mass of non-combustible residue after complete combustion of the sample. Sulphated ash is the name given to the ash residue treated with sulphuric acid (destruction of organometallic additives), then heated at 775 °C to total evaporation. Total solids are the sum of metallic solids present in oil. The rate of solids depends on the system. In Diesel engines, fuel soot is usually the main component measured. In non-diesel systems, debris and oxidation products are those measured. The test method used is ASTM D 4055, based on the determination of larger than 0,80 μm insoluble particles. SAE Grade is the viscosity classification of oil in accordance with the chart of the Society of Automotive Engineers S.A.E.
Total Acid Number measures the total amount of acidic material present in a lubricant. An increase in the TAN above that of the new product indicates degradation of oil by oxidation or contamination. The results are expressed as a numeric value corresponding to the amount of the alkaline chemical potassium hydroxide required to neutralize the acid in one gram of sample.
Total Base Number is a measure of a lubricant's reserve alkalinity. The result is expressed as an equivalent amount of potassium hydroxide in one gram of sample. Many of the additives now used in engine oils contain alkaline materials intended to neutralize the acidic products of combustion. A relatively high TBN is associated with increased protection against ring and cylinder liner corrosion. Abnormal decreases in TBN may indicate reduced acid neutralizing capacity or a depleted additive package.
Varnish is a thin, oil-insoluble layer of oil-degradation residues and by-products that develop over time on the internal surfaces of lubricated equipment. If not detected in time, varnish can cause sudden stops and severe operational problems to hydraulic systems such as excessive wear of pumps, increased bearing friction and servo-valves sticking. Varnish acts as an insulator, reduces the cooling effect of heat exchangers, decreases the oil's resistance to flow and blocks up filters. The varnish formation potential is estimated by a Quantitative Spectrophotometric Analysis (QSA) on a scale of 1 ~ 100, indicating a lubricant's tendency to form varnish. The higher the QSA, the higher is the probability for oil to produce varnish. A measured QSA value higher than 40 indicates a high level of varnish.
Viscosity, or oil weight, examines the thickness or thinness of the oil. The test measures the time for a volume of liquid to flow under gravity, determining the kinematic viscosity of oil at 40 °C. Equipment manufacturers specify viscosity when indicating machine tolerance, bearing loads and the rate of heat removal. Viscosity must be tested at the operating temperature of the equipment. Together with FTIR and ICP Spectroscopy, Viscosity figures amongst the basic tests always performed on each oil sample.
The Viscosity at 100 °C test measures the thickness of the oil at a high operating temperature. Viscosity, or oil weight, examines the thickness or thinness of the sample oil. The test measures the time for a volume of liquid to flow under gravity, determining the kinematic viscosity of oil at 100 °C, which is the operating temperature of the equipment. Together with FTIR and ICP Spectroscopy, Viscosity figures amongst the basic tests always performed on each oil sample.
The Viscosity Index measures the variation in kinematic viscosity due to changes in the temperature of a petroleum product between 40°C and 100°C. A higher viscosity index indicates a smaller decrease in kinematic viscosity with increasing temperature of the lubricant. The viscosity index is used as a single number indicating the effect of temperature change on the kinematic viscosity of oil.
This test method provides a guide for determining the water separation characteristics of oils subject to water contamination and turbulence. Although developed specifically for steam-turbine oils having viscosities of 28.8 mm2/s to 90 mm2/s at 40 °C, this test method may be used to test oils of other types having various viscosities and synthetic fluids at other test temperatures.
Oil and oil-immersed electrical insulation materials may decompose under the influence of thermal and electrical stresses, and in doing so, generate gaseous decomposition products of varying composition which dissolve in the oil. The nature and amount of the individual component gases (H2, O2, N2, etc.)that may be recovered and analyzed may be indicative of the type and degree of the abnormality responsible for the gas generation. The rate of gas generation and changes in concentration of specific gases over time are also used to evaluate the condition of the electric apparatus. This method by Gas Chromatography covers three procedures for extraction and measurement of gases dissolved in electrical insulating oil having a viscosity of 20 cSt (100 SUS) or less at 40°C (104°F), and the identification and determination of the individual component gases extracted.
This test method covers the determination in electrical insulating liquids of products of the degradation of cellulosic materials such as paper, pressboard, and cotton materials typically found as insulating materials in electrical equipment. These degradation products are commonly referred to as furanic compounds or furans. This test method allows either liquid/liquid or solid phase extraction (SPE) of the furanic compounds from the sample matrix followed by analysis for specific furanic compounds by HPLC or direct injection for analysis of specific furanic compounds by HPLC.
Interfacial tension measurements on electrical insulating liquids provide a sensitive means of detecting small amounts of soluble polar contaminants and products of oxidation. A high value for new mineral insulating oil indicates the absence of most undesirable polar contaminants. The test is frequently applied to service-aged mineral oils as an indication of the degree of deterioration.

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