Testoil recently announced substantial changes to all aspects of its filter debris analysis testing process, including a new washing instrument, a redesigned washing method and a revamped comprehensive report. The improvements are intended to significantly increase the laboratory’s ability to identify wearing machine components, providing enhanced diagnostic and prognostic information about impending failures.
"Our customers depend on us to provide the most reliable oil analysis testing data to ensure machine performance and reduce risks of failure," said Eric Ambrose, Testoil's director of technical operations. "The filter debris analysis upgrade expands on that commitment as well as stays on top of the latest technological developments."
The first step in the new testing process, and one of the most significant changes, includes a new filter washing instrument.
"The modular design can accommodate more irregular filters such as large-sized filters and bag or sock filters," explains Ambrose. "During this new process, filters are now washed using solvent and compressed air, and there are no electrical components, which allows for the use of flammable solvents."
In addition, attachments are connected to the filter in order to seal them and perform a true "back-flush" by using solvent and compressed air. The attachments are also capable of performing a more repeatable wash of the filter and achieving a better representation of debris caught within the media for analysis.
Once the debris stream is collected from the washing unit, it is then moved to the lab for analysis. Testoil now performs an optical particle count on the debris stream collected from the filter. The particle counter is able to detect a wide range of particles, including particles as small as 5 microns and as large as 68 microns.
The methodology behind the membrane patch is new as well. Membrane patches are created and gravimetrically weighed to collect debris, calculate the total amount of debris collected from the filter and trend data. A 30-micron patch and a 5-micron patch are made and analyzed to differentiate severe and normal wear. The 30-micron patch collects larger particles, while the 5-micron patch collects smaller particles. In the apparatus, the 30-micron patch sits above the 5-micron patch, allowing smaller particles to pass through.
Once debris has been gravimetrically weighed and collected on both patches, analysts view the 30-micron patch under a microscope. A representative magnified image of the wear particles is then captured and included on the report.
The 5- and 30-micron patches are then analyzed with X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy. The XRF can determine the range of elements present as well as their proportions within the sample.
Once testing is completed, the data is assembled in a comprehensive test report. Analysts review the data and conclude an appropriate determination of the machine’s condition. The report displays images of the filter and patches, microscopic views of the patches, and pie charts displaying elemental data.
For more information, visit www.testoil.com.