Used Oil Analysis

Trico’s used oil analysis provides a variety of physical and chemical tests to assess lubricant condition and its ability to perform, as required by the machine’s application. We provide a variety of test packages to determine contamination levels and the health of your lubricant and equipment so you can take the necessary actions when needed. As the results of your tests come back to us we will alert you to critical levels and possible reasons for your result. No other lab will provide the expertise that Trico does in terms of years of service by trained lab technicians and analytical ferrography experts. Your used oil tells a story, let us tell that story to you in great detail.

Trico’s Used Oil Analysis and Lubricant Analysis

Used Oil Lubricant  and  Equipment Analysis Tests

Results from the following tests are reviewed by your Machine Condition Analyst and recommendations for your equipment are given with supporting data on each report. The list below is not all-inclusive of the used oil analysis tests offered.

Direct Reading Ferrography

Test Description

The DR unit separates wear debris from the lubricant according to size. A sample is pumped across a high-gradient magnetic field at a slow rate. The ferrous particles are attracted to the magnetic field and deposited in two locations depending upon the amount of attraction. There are two size ranges: Density Large (DL) and Density Small (DS). The DL represents particles >5 um and DS represents particles <5 um. The results are an optical density equivalent and not a particle count.

Purpose of Test

The WPC, summation of DL and DS, provides a trendable quantity for monitoring the wear condition of a piece of equipment. Fluctuations in the WPC suggest an abnormal condition in the component or possible contamination.

Analytical Ferrography

Test Description

Particles are separated from the lubricant sample by magnets and gravity, allowing for the examination of the individual particles present in the sample. Debris are examined microscopically at magnifications between 100x and 1000x. Particles’ size, shape, composition, and concentration can be determined.

Purpose of Test

By identifying the size, shape, composition, and concentration of the abnormal wear particles, the wear mechanism and its possible origin can be determined. Solid contaminants can also be identified. Equipment and component metallurgical information aids the analyst in determining the root cause for the formation of these particles.

Elemental Analysis / ASTM D5185

Test Description

Elemental analysis is performed in accordance with atomic emission spectroscopy (AES). A specific volume of lubricant is energized using an electrical arc. The light frequencies and intensities are measured and reported in parts per million of various elements. The elements consist of wear, additive, and trace elements.

Purpose of Test

Elemental analysis is useful for identifying contamination, confirming additive content, and indicating system wear. The following elements are analyzed: Iron, Chromium, Aluminum, Lead, Tin, Copper, Silver, Nickel, Sodium, Vanadium, Titanium, Molybdenum, Calcium, Barium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Boron, Potassium, Magnesium and Silicon.

Particle Count / ISO 4406

Test Description

As particles in the oil flow past a laser, the laser light is blocked allowing individual particles to be counted and sized. The resulting data is a distribution of the concentration of particles in various size ranges.

Purpose of Test

Since all contaminants in the oil are counted as particles, the particle count includes wear particles, soot, dirt, and other contaminates. This test provides information on lubricant cleanliness.

Water by Karl Fischer / ASTM D6304

Test Description

An electrical impulse is created when water reacts with iodine. The intensity and duration of the electrical impulse is measured and converted to a concentration of water.

Purpose of Test

Tracking the actual water quantity in a sample of in-service lubricant is crucial in identify the source of the water and noting changes in this contamination over time since water not only promotes component damage through pitting and corrosion, but lubricant breakdown through oxidation as well.

Acid Number (AN) / ASTM D664

Test Description

AN is determined by titration with potassium hydroxide (KOH) which neutralizes the acids in the oil sample.

Purpose of Test

AN of a used lubricant is one measure of its degree of degradation by oxidation.

Base Number (BN) / ASTM D4739

Test Description

BN is determined by titration with Hydrochloric acid (HCl) which neutralizes the basic compounds in the oil sample and then is converted to grams of potassium hydroxide (KOH).

Purpose of Test

TBN of a used lubricant is a measurement of its ability to neutralize the acid commonly found in combustion engines.

FT-IR Infrared Analysis / ASTM E2412

Test Description

The infrared absorption spectrum of a lubricant furnishes a means of fingerprinting organic compounds and functional groups. Test results are trended and qualitative determinations can be made.

Purpose of Test

Infrared analysis is often used to identify trends in lubricant degradation due to oxidation or contamination such as nitration or water.

Crackle

Test Description

A visual inspection of the oil is performed upon arrival and a small amount of oil is placed on a hot plate heated to 265 °C which will indicate the presence of water with a crackling sound. Unfortunately this test is imprecise and can be inaccurate which is why the Karl Fisher test for water is crucial to a well maintained oil analysis program.

Purpose of Test

This screening is used to provide a description of any egregious issues with the sample.

Viscosity ASTM D445

Test Description

A portion of the sample is heated to the correct temperature (40 or 100 °C) and pulled into a tube. The pressure is released allowing the lubricant to fall with gravity and the time is measured as the lubricant passes two specified points in the tube. The shorter the time, the lower the viscosity.

Purpose of Test

The viscosity is the most important characteristic for oil. If the viscosity is too low, components will not have separation during operation and wear will be generated. If the viscosity is too high then the operating temperatures will be higher and the lifespan of the motor may be diminished.

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