For aircraft to efficiently operate through a range of extreme temperatures, pressures, and humidity, they are held to high standards during their design, construction, and general maintenance. In order to achieve such readiness and reliability, aircraft engines in particular need to be well maintained and protected from heat and lubricant anomalies. To ensure that engine parts are well protected, advanced engine oils and lubricants may be used in order to cool components and mitigate friction. As engine oil is similarly held to high scrutiny for performance, many engine manufacturers will conduct oil analysis as part of engine development and testing.
For most gas turbine engines that serve both commercial and defense applications, synthetic polyol ester fluids are the most common and can meet MIL-PRF requirements such as MIL-PRF-23699F-STD level performance. Such lubricants are also advantageous for industrial or marine equipment service applications. For aircraft gas turbine engines in particular, the main benefit of synthetic lubricants and engine oils are their ability to meet demanding requirements over a wide range of extreme operating conditions. With a range of -40 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, such lubricants can maintain their film strength and viscosity. Furthermore, synthetic lubricants feature high thermal and oxidation stability, meaning that they can minimize the chance of sludge and varnish deposits.
When conducting oil analysis, testing will often be focused on the wear and chemistry characteristics of a particular engine oil. For the wear, particle count, particle composition, particle type, and ferrous wear are all tested for. When checking for particle count, a rapid increase of particles or a high amount may be indicative of a coming failure and thus will require action. Particle composition is also important, and having an understanding of the source of various particles can help determine the state of engine oil depending on the application. The particle type can also provide information on the oil in regard to whether particles are from cutting wear, fatigue wear, sliding wear, etc. Lastly, ferrous wear can be relied upon to monitor machine condition, and a high sensitivity magnetometer is used to measure and report ferrous content with particle count and size being provided for larger particles.
The chemistry of engine oil and lubricants is also crucial for performance, and tests include looking for the Total Acid Number (TAN) and viscosity. The TAN is a measurement that may be used to find the corrosive potential of engine oil, and a high value may warrant concern as the oil may corrode and damage machine parts. The viscosity of a particular lubricant is an important aspect as it will affect its ability to properly create and maintain a lubrication film between moving surfaces. As such, running oil analysis for viscosity is paramount so that lubricants are always within recommended ranges.
To conduct efficient testing and analysis, one should ensure that they procure the most reliable analyzers and equipment for the job. Depending on one’s needs, there are numerous products that can simplify the testing process for various applications. When you are ready to begin sourcing the oil analysis devices and equipment that you need for your particular operations, look no further than Internet of NSN.
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