Quality Control in Lubricating Oil Using XRF

The producers and blenders of lubricating oils must adhere to strict specifications regarding factors such as the specific gravity, viscosity and flash point of the oil they produce. The use of elemental analysis throughout the blending process allows the oil quality to be tightly controlled.

EDXRF (Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence) is the perfect method for oil analysis as it is highly accurate, non-destructive, allows a wide range of elements to be identified, and can be carried out rapidly.

EDXRF allows operators to quickly find out the levels of trace elements in an oil; with typical XRF systems able to identify elements from sodium to uranium regardless of their state (solid, liquid or gas).

For the analysis of lubricating oils important elements to measure tend to include phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, zinc, calcium and molybdenum. The low limit of detection and extremely high accuracy of XRF allows these elements to be detected at levels in the ppm range.

Engine Condition Monitoring

It is also possible to use XRF analysis to measure lubricating oil following use, providing information about the state of the engine it was used in. A comparison between the used oil and a fresh oil sample allows differences in elemental composition to be identified, and these differences can be used to determine if the engine is showing signs of wear or if the oil is breaking down.

Producers of lubricating oils can also use XRF analysis to help inform their own R&D processes and for the evaluation of new oil additives.

Benchtop XRF Analyzers for Lubricating Oil Analysis

Hitachi’s range of benchtop XRF analyzers is ideal for testing lube oil both during blending and for subsequent analysis after use. The systems have a robust design, meaning they can provide high-performance analysis in challenging production environments.

Hitachi’s systems are designed with usability in mind. The need to prepare samples has been minimized; all that is required is the addition of the oil sample to a testing cup which is then placed in the XRF system. Measurements are then available at the push of a button, with the process taking just a few minutes. Numerical measurements can be provided on an integrated screen or, to make things even simpler, a pass or fail function can be set up.

The results taken are stored within the system, with many of the models available also providing advanced data management functions. Data can be connected to Hitachi’s ExTOPE cloud to streamline the data storage process and provide batch-by-batch recording. This is very useful for reporting and data traceability.

Hitachi’s XRF systems adhere to standard methods of lubricating oil analysis:

ASTM D7751: Standard Test Method for Determination of Additive Elements in Lubricating Oils by EDXRF Analysis.

ASTM D6481: Standard test method for determination of phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, and zinc in lubrication oils by energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

For more information on this source, please visit Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

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