PdMA Oil Lab Targets Contamination and Customized Services

PdMA Corporation was founded in 1979 as an organization providing predictive maintenance products and services. In 1989, the PdMA Laboratory Services Division was created. From its inception, it has operated under the 10-CFR-50 Appendix B Quality Assurance and Control program. This QA/QC program is the same used to build and operate nuclear power plants.

PdMA's full service laboratory provides a wide range of tests on oil, grease, coolants, fuel, and transformer oil. They also maintain a Radioactive Materials License with the State of Florida, allowing them to process and dispose of Radioactive Materials including: oil, grease, coolant, and diesel fuel.

Over time and with normal use, certain oil analysis results may change gradually due to lube oxidation and degradation. However, when contamination occurs you will normally notice major changes in key oil properties. There are many possible sources of contamination. For instance, contamination can occur due to normal machinery wear or environmental conditions. Contamination can also occur from improper storage and handling of the lubricant. High levels of contamination such as dirt and water, caused by improper storage, is an avoidable mistake and often very costly. And, it is not unusual for oil to become contaminated during the sampling process.

One way that PdMA is continually helping its customers is by identifying various contaminants found in their lubricant samples. There are many different laboratory tests available to identify oil contamination of a sample. In some cases the source may not be related to the machinery.
Microscopic analysis often reveals surprising results. In one example, a PdMA customer required cleanliness testing of a hydraulic fluid. His employee pulled a sample and brought it to the lab. When the sample was tested, it had a very high particle count. Microscopic analysis revealed that the oil contained white and red crystals, appearing randomly throughout the sample (see Figure 1). The customer was informed of the situation, and a couple of days later he called the lab to explain that the employee who collected the sample used a bottle that had previously held cherry flavored antacid tablets. The debris observed by the lab was in fact the remnants of the tablets. This sampling error cost PdMA's customer three days and many hours of overtime.

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis has proved to be a highly versatile tool for used oil analysis. Confirming contamination in a reservoir is among the possible uses of FTIR. One PdMA customer suspected that a lube oil had been contaminated with glue. He sent samples of both the glue and the lube in for analysis. Both samples were extracted with solvent after which an FTIR spectrum of each extraction was taken with the solvent spectrum subtracted out. The absorption spectrum (see Figure 2) confirmed that the lubricant had in fact been contaminated with the glue, consistent with the customer's suspicions. Months later, another sample was similarly found to be contaminated with glue using FTIR Spectroscopy.

PdMA supports its clients with quick service coupled with accurate and concisely reported interpretation of data. Recommended actions are included with every sample submitted. Their OASISTM software generates reports, charts, and graphs for convenient viewing, trending and comparison of data.

PdMA values a close customer relationship and strives to be aware of their individual needs. With clients in industries ranging from nuclear power to food production, PdMA is well aware of the specialized requirements of individual plants. Accordingly, they will therefore tailor an oil analysis program to fit these specific needs. They can assist in choosing a sampling frequency and an analysis package suitable for the different types of machinery in the plant.

Laboratory personnel maintain current memberships with ASTM, STLE, American Chemical Society, and American Nuclear Society.

For more information about PdMA's Laboratory Services Division or to receive complimentary analysis of a trial sample, please contact:

PdMA Corporation
5909-C Hampton Oaks Pkwy
Tampa, Florida 33610
(813) 621-6463 or

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