Oil Analysis Using Infrared Spectroscopy

Whether managing a marine vessel, truck or locomotive fleet, reliability engineers depend on oil analysis data to schedule maintenance actions. There is a continuous need to enhance uptime and reduce maintenance expenditures, but such requirements demand instant oil analysis results for smart decision-making through predictive maintenance technologies.

To this end, oil analysis is a critical predictive maintenance technology. However, conducting on-site oil analysis is a difficult prospect owing to a number of issues, such as logistics of handling dangerous chemicals and waste recycling, lack of in-house expertise and inadequate oil analysis instrumentation.

FluidScan: Portable Fluid Condition Monitor

FluidScan handheld fluid condition monitor

Figure 1. FluidScan handheld fluid condition monitor

The FluidScan device is a handheld infrared oil analyzer designed to overcome such challenges. It evaluates fluid condition based on Joint Oil Analysis Program and ASTM International standard practices. The device protects machinery by ascertaining when a lubricant has to be changed owing to fluid mix ups, degradation and contamination, which happen to be the most common causes of oil changes.

The handheld analyzer detects lubricant contamination by water, glycol, or other fluids at the point of usage by calculating critical oil condition parameters in synthetic as well as in petroleum-based fluids and lubricants.

Infrared Spectroscopy

Infrared spectroscopy is an advanced method, which is widely used for testing degradation and contamination. The FluidScan uses this technique to analyze fluids and lubricants and offers the same precision as laboratory instruments yet in a convenient handheld version. The device’s database stores the analysis information, which can be synchronized with the FluidScan Manager software, an advanced database analysis package that can be run on a PC. The software archives and trends data and creates fluid condition reports.

The FluidScan lubricant condition monitor allows operators working in marine vessels, military vehicles and aircraft, wind turbines, power generation and mining equipment, or any large industrial set up to establish predictive maintenance programs, which are based on oil condition and not on a distance schedule.

The self-contained handheld analyzer offers rapid on-site analysis of lubricant properties and alerts users on when to change the lubricant as a result of degradation or contamination.

Advantages of Real-time, On-site Analysis

Real-time, on-site analysis provides several benefits, such as reduced operational and maintenance costs, reduced maintenance outages, extended oil change intervals, instant laboratory analysis results and elimination of catastrophic failures.

Patented Optics and Flip Top Sampling Cell

Patented flip top cell eliminates the need for solvents to clean

Figure 2. Patented flip top cell eliminates the need for solvents to clean

With the help of FluidScan, users can quickly assess fluid condition. The analyzer also eliminates sample preparation and elaborate cleanup time by utilizing a patented flip top sampling cell for instant on-site analysis.

A mid-infrared spectrometer is integrated in the FluidScan that gathers the infrared light passing via the fluid in the flip top cell into a waveguide, as shown in figure 3. This light is carried by the waveguide to a diffraction grating, which is similar to a prism and reflects the light into an array detector. This detector records the fluid’s infrared spectrum.

Patented wedged optical design

Figure 3. Patented wedged optical design

The waveguide entirely contains the infrared signal, maximizing the amount of light in the spectrometer and minimizing any atmospheric interference spectrometer. This way, the FluidScan improves spectral resolution and optical throughput in a compact device.

As a result, it offers sufficient resolution, spectral range and signal-to-noise ratio for instant analysis of lubricants. This miniature device runs on Li-Ion batteries and can be operated for approximately eight hours.

Operation of FluidScan

First, the user needs to load a sample into the flip top cell and enter the sample data. After this, the analysis can be started using the intuitive user interface and navigation pad in the FluidScan.

Parameters like status and supporting fluid condition are then measured and displayed to the user that can be recorded for trending and exporting to a central database. The data is stored in a SQL database and can be downloaded to a PC by utilizing the FluidScan Manager database software.

The FluidScan has been widely used to determine properties for petroleum- based engine oils, hydraulic fluids, synthetic ester turbine oils, transmission fluids, petroleum and synthetic gear oils, marine diesel fluids, etc. In addition, the database includes parameters optimized for biodiesel feedstock, diesel/biodiesel blends and finished products. In addition, the FluidScan features an integrated reference oil library for military, automotive, railway, marine, military and industrial applications.

Conclusion

The combination of IR technology, unique calibration algorithms, sampling flip top cell, and built in reference oil library and alarm limits makes the FluidScan an ideal tool for reliability professionals.

Spectro Scientific

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by AMETEK Spectro Scientific.

For more information on this source, please visit AMETEK Spectro Scientific.

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