Types of water contamination in oil
Updated: Feb 24
In our last #knowyouroil segment, we had discussed about Particle Contamination and its effect on the life of rotating parts. Companies spend a lot of money on installing filtration units to counter particle contamination but never take preventive measures towards water contamination. Water is a worse and silent killer for the life of machinery as it slowly degrades the oil properties and one only gets to know about it when the machine fails pre-maturely.
In this article, we will try to understand the basics of Water Contamination. We will also try to answer the following questions.
1. What water does to oil properties?
2. Can we see water contamination as soon as it starts?
3. What to do if our oil is contaminated?
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There are three phases in which water can exist in oil i.e. dissolved water, emulsified water, and free water.
Dissolved Water: It is characterized by individual water molecules dispersed throughout the oil. Water can remain in a dissolved state and hence difficult to understand the contamination at this stage.
Emulsified Water: When the oil gets saturated with water it starts to exist as a suspension in oil like microscopic droplets giving oil a milky appearance and is called emulsion.
Free Water: When the level of oil in water increases further it leads to separation of oil and water called Free water.
For a lubricant, the most important property is its viscosity. As the water starts to mix with lubricant it starts to alter the viscosity and hence impacts the film strength which is essential in maintaining equipment reliability by keeping moving parts away from each other. Water contamination also impacts the chemical properties of the base oil by acting as catalyst oxidation and aeration. This also leads to the appearance of sludge and varnish which leads to premature failure.
Water contamination also leads to Hydraulic Pump Cavitation in machines:
Pitting inside of the machine; as the water droplets burst under pressure and high temperature creating microfractures on the machine’s surface.
If you see the signs of water contamination in your oil, what should you do?
1. Not to change oil as changing oil is not the only option. This is because once the oil is drained the impurities still remain in the system until they are flushed. If new oil is introduced without cleaning the system it leads to contamination of the new oil leading to no change in the premature breakdown situation.
2. Flushing of the system
3. Check the internals of the system to check for any damage
4. Filter the new oil to ensure no moisture is available in the oil
5. Skip all four steps and call Minimac (+91 7030901266)
We at Minimac Systems Pvt Ltd. not only design a maintenance schedule for the lubrication oil but also provide OIL TESTING and FILTRATION services as per the ISO standard of Super Clean Oil. Minimac stands for MINImum MAChinery Maintenance.