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The Value of Spectroscopy
FTIR spectroscopy is currently used in virtually all lubricant analysis laboratories. Whereas elemental analysis measures the level of wear metals present, infrared spectroscopy analyzes the molecular composition of in-service fluids. Viscosity measurement, particle counting, elemental analysis and infrared analysis are the main techniques employed for monitoring the condition of lubricants
As a screening tool, the use of real-time, at-site FTIR offers additional potential benefits such as the following:Need-based Analysis
Because changes in the lubricant as a function of time are not linear, then the time period between analytical tests should be chosen to reflect the current condition of the lubricant, that is, more frequent as the lubricant shows signs of aging. Closely following the condition of in-service lubricant by real-time FTIR allows the fluid to be used to its potential and helps to minimize the risk of mechanical equipment wear.
Return Lubricant to Specs
Real-time, at-site FTIR can act as a supporting analytical technology in programs designed to bring lubricants back to spec via readditization. FTIR is a powerful method for analysis of antiwear and antioxidation additives. More companies are looking to extend the use of lubricants by refreshing critical additives to bring the lubricant back to spec. Real-time, on-site FTIR can be a powerful tool for determining how much additive should be recharged and for monitoring the overall refreshed oil composition.
Analysis Time Management
QA/QC of Lubricants
At-site FTIR can determine that incoming lubricants are properly formulated, not contaminated in shipping or mislabeled and helps ensure that the correct lubrication fluid is charged into the machinery. It is critically important to use lubricants that meet the equipment manufacturer's specifications. When special lubricants are ordered and shipped, mistakes can occur in formulation or in delivery. At-site FTIR spectroscopy is an exceedingly useful tool for ensuring quality control of lubricants and other incoming materials. As an example, a portable FTIR spectrometer can be used at the loading dock or at the tanker truck delivering fluids to ensure that the delivery matches the expected formulation.
Mobility Series Spectrometers
The Mobility Spectrometers use a series of algorithms, based on the ASTM E 2412 protocol, for the analysis of in service oil, and thus can measure levels of soot, water, glycol, nitration, oxidation, sulfation oxidation, antiwear and antioxidant additives and fuel dilution. The systems can be used to analyze other lubricants including hydraulic fluid, gear oil and greases. An on-line guide instructs the user on how to prepare the sample for analysis, and then the measurement is initiated with a single command. After analysis of the sample is complete, a report (Figure 4) appears on the screen indicating the specific parameters measured, the pre-set alert or alarm limits for these parameters, and through the use of color indicators, identifies parameters that are out of specification. Specific recommendations are given as to the condition of the oil and the possible mechanical cause of any specification that is not within acceptable limits.
FTIR spectroscopy provides an immediate snapshot of the overall health of lubricating fluids - it is a window to the vital signs of both the lubricants and the equipment that lubricants protect. With A2 Technologies Mobility Series spectrometers, FTIR can now be used where it is needed - at site, where the machinery is in use. This new approach assists maintenance, service and equipment reliability personnel in making rapid, actionable decisions based on objective analytical data.