• Testing Temperatures of Industrial & Engine Oils

    Last month we talked about changing the oil in hydraulic equipment, this month we will discuss the testing temperatures of industrial and engine oils. There are two different governing agencies that determine how to test and calibrate oils. Industrial oils are governed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) governs automotive oils (crankcase). The standard for oils used in factory and plant machinery is ISO 3448. In order to meet these standards, the oils must have an ISO viscosity from 10 to 6800. To ensure that all tests are the same, they must be completed at 40 degrees C. It is important to meet these standards as oils in this kind of machinery must deal with dusty environments, high loads, and varying ambient conditions. The standard for automotive oils in SAE J300. These oils are divided into three groups, winter, high-temperature, and multi-grade. Oils in the winter group are measured by the cold-cranking and pumping ability at temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees C. High-temperature oils with viscosity grades ranging from 20 to 60 are tested in 100 degrees C. Multi-grade oils are a combination of winter and high-temperature grade oils.  They should provide cold-cranking ability as well as remain stable at high running temperatures. Multi-grade oils are tested at 150 degrees C. The difference between industrial and automotive oils is an important one. The operating circumstances are very different, which is why there is a difference in the necessary viscosity as well as the testing temperature. Actual operating temperatures of industrial oils are 40 degrees C, making that suitable for most lubricant classifications. Automotive industry studies have found that 150 degrees C is the average operating temperature for crankcase oils.

  • Steps to Changing Oil

    While we know that oil changes are an important step in keeping any kind of machinery working, we may not always know the best way to change that oil. In this blog post, we will discuss how to drain the oil from hydraulic equipment. Any time you are changing the oil, the first step is to drain as much of the old fluid as possible. To ensure this; make sure all hydraulic cylinders are in the closed positions. This will leave little oil left in the components. After ensuring that all expansion components have been closed, it is time to drain. Some hydraulic systems may have multiple ports to drain from. The main reservoir should contain the largest port, allowing for the quickest draining of the equipment. If there are smaller ports, they should be drained after the largest port. Another tip is to remove any return-line filters, as they can hold a good amount of oil. Removing them also allows for the return lines to be open for draining. Whenever you’re draining hydraulic equipment, it is important that air is able to flow through the machinery. However, you must ensure that the air is free of debris and moisture. This is why it is very important to have breather ports equipped with a desiccant breather to help reduce contamination. While gravity will do most of the work when draining the oil, employing a filter cart will help drain the oil faster, as well as fill the system without having to open the oil reservoir to the environment for as long. If you choose not to utilize a filter cart, the same basic steps are involved in changing the oil; draining the existing oil, replacing the filters and then refilling the reservoir with new oil. To know when to change the oil in a machine, it is sometimes appropriate to conduct oil analysis. And if you’re wondering about the importance of oil analysis, check out our feature article on the subject.

  • A Wind Turbine for the Urban Environment

    Anytime you’re near the country where strong winds are present, there is a good chance you will see a very large wind turbine. Due to the noise levels and their size, these 100 feet behemoths are nowhere near suitable for urban life. The Archimedes Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine is a super-quiet solution to city wind energy. Resembling a Nautilus shell and based off of the Archimedes screw pump, the turbine promises to capture enough wind to power a half day’s energy use for a typical household. At its source,a large wind turbine can reach 105db(A), which is akin to a lawnmower. The Urban Wind Turbine will be just 45db(A) which is slightly louder than an average refrigerator. Since they are designed with an urban environment in mind, situating them on roof will suffice, with no need to increase its height with a pole. The turbines do not have to be used solely. At just under 5 feet in diameter and weighing 120 lbs., a homeowner can arrange several turbines into a triangle; the screw design sucks in the wind, thus not affecting the others. The turbines are also capable of turning towards the wind, to maintain maximum efficiency.  The creators have mentioned that by utilizing solar power along with the Urban Wind Turbine, a homeowner can effectively cut themselves loose from the power grid and be energy self-sufficient.

  • Oil Analysis and its Involvement in Manufacturing

    Manufacturing has long been a significant part of the nation’s economy and the world’s economy as well. Manufacturing in the United States is the eighth largest economy in the world; if the manufacturing sector were its own country. During the 20-year span of 1992 to 2012, the output of manufacturing increased by more than 83 percent. The U.S. produces more goods and services than any other country in the world. And while manufacturing is good for the economy, it can be very tough on lubricants. Many of the machines are in harsh environments that are hot, wet and dusty. SGS Herguth Laboratories prides itself on keeping these machines running by providing analysis and testing for all types of manufacturing applications. From General manufacturing to more specialized plants such as automotive, lumber and metals, SGS Herguth has tested equipment for all of them, all over the country. SGS Herguth does not just specialize in testing of the manufacturing equipment that keeps the economy turning, but also the testing of the fleets of trucks that bring those goods to the stores. SGS Herguth has tested diesel and gasoline engines, as well as transmissions and differentials. Manufacturing increases demand for many things, such as energy, raw materials, services and raw materials. Studies reveal that every $1 of final sales from manufactured goods supports $1.33 worth of output from other sectors, which is a much larger impact than any other industry. Manufacturing keeps the country moving, and SGS Herguth Laboratories works to keep manufacturing running.

  • Stationary Engines May Need More Frequent Oil Changes

    In March 2010 the EPA announced new amendments to “Subpart ZZZZ National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Stationary Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines.” This rule sets new requirements for diesel engines and revisions for natural gas engines. This requires that the impacted engines achieve emission limits set forth by the Clean Air Act. The act also set deadlines for compliance for each type of engine, diesel engines by May 2013 and natural gas engines by October 2013. The requirements went into effect on those dates, including those related to work practices. “Work practices” is distinctive to this rule and refers to the time interval for changing the engine’s oil. This new rule, while favorable to emission limits and testing requirements, is well below the oil change frequency norm. The exact oil change requirement depends on the engine type. But an example is an oil change at 1,440 hours. For non-emergency engines where a typical annual runtime is 7,000 hours, an oil change at such an early interval would hamper operations. These non-emergency engines normally run for 4,000 hours before needing an oil change.  This would lead to almost five oil changes during a normal operational year. However, the EPA did add an option to extend the frequency of the oil change, if an oil analysis were completed instead. The EPA decided to implement this after many public comments were submitted.  The oil analysis must be completed at the same frequency of every 1,440 hours. The oil analysis program must include the following: base number (natural gas), acid number (diesel), viscosity, and water content percentage. If an engine is within the parameters, the oil change can be delayed for another 1,440 hours; however, if the parameters are exceeded, an oil change must be completed within two days. If the oil change is not completed within the two days, the engine must be taken out of use until the change is completed. The EPA and individual state environmental agencies have the authority to request compliance records for up to five years. Therefore, it is imperative that owners verify that this rule is followed and properly documented.

  • Wind Energy Helps Combat the Cold

    This past winter was exceptionally cold and many areas of the United States also saw higher than average snowfall. As the temperatures drop outside and the thermostats are turned up inside, electricity prices will go up. For anyone familiar with supply and demand, this is not surprising. However, what may be surprising is how wind energy has been able to keep those prices from skyrocketing.  Technological advancements have allowed wind energy to become more cost effective, leading to its increased use. Increased wind energy is able to drive down the market price of all electricity being sold. Operators are able to use excess wind energy to make up for less efficient and more expensive power plants. During peak times, such as exceptionally cold nights, this additional supply of energy can greatly reduce the market electricity price and keep everyone online and warm. Savings do not stop with only the customers who receive wind energy directly. It can also be used to displace natural gas; so those who may only use natural gas to heat their homes will also see a decrease in price. This past winter has shown us the importance of diversifying where we get our energy from. According to the American Wind Energy Association “Wind energy plays a critical role in diversifying our energy mix, improving energy reliability and reducing energy costs for homes and businesses.” The more we are able to increase our power output using wind energy, the lower costs will be when we need to warm our homes during those cold winter nights.

  • Don’t Fear Nuclear Power!

    Since the very first nuclear power plant came on line almost sixty years ago in Russia, experts and politicians have argued its relative value to humanity. As in any highly politicized scientific breakthrough, many misnomers have been spread to discredit nuclear power. What we do know for sure, what science has proven, shines an often ignored positive light on the entire concept of nuclear energy. The experts at one of our favorite organizations, the Nuclear Literacy Project, do a great job of cutting through the noise and getting to the facts. Some of these pluses include:
    • In a world ravaged by carbon-based fuels, nuclear energy is the largest source of carbon-free electricity in America
    • Many people blow the fear of radioactivity out of proportion! Ordinary things like rocks, bananas, and even the human body all contain natural radioactivity.
    • There are 104 commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S. running safely and efficiently providing 20% of our electricity
    • Did you know that it takes one ton of dirty and dangerous coal to make the same amount of energy as one pellet the size of an eraser of nuclear fuel?
    Of course there are many more reasons why nuclear power is necessary to safely and cost-effectively remove our dependency on carbon-based fuels. To learn more you can always contact us at SGS Herguth, or you can visit the website of our friends at the Nuclear Literacy Project today.  The bottom line is that nuclear power is nothing to be afraid of; in fact it just might be the answer to all of our future power needs.

  • An Advanced Biofuel for your Diesel Engine

    As many industries in North America dedicate research and engineering to developing new fuels and energy sources, you may begin hearing more about biodiesel. Biodiesel is an advanced biofuel that burns clean and is produced from domestic, renewable resources. It was developed to replace traditional diesel gasoline, in turn reducing dependence on imported oil and diesel. There is not one single formula to produce biodiesel, in fact it  is “made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources including agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil and animal fats and meets the strict specifications of ASTM D6751.” These renewable resources are carefully processed to make up the first biofuel to reach 1 billion gallons of annual production. But perhaps one of the greatest characteristics of biodiesel is that it can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is even covered by all major engine manufacturers’ warranties. The biodiesel production industry hopes to be fueling roughly 10 percent of the diesel transportation market by 2022, and add to the already existing 200 biodiesel plants across the country. The innovative fuel already employs more than 62,000 people and has the capacity to support many more as the transportation industry more widely adopts it. According to the EPA, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions between 57 and 86 percent when compared to petroleum diesel. It is also much more cost effective and greatly reduces one of the most dangerous pollutants- tailpipe exhausts. Additionally, it is the only alternative fuel to have completed the health effects testing requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and is less toxic than table salt. To learn more about this exciting new fuel, visit www.biodiesel.org or call one of SGS Herguth’s experts!

  • Understanding Physical Properties Testing

    As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, proper testing and analysis can save your equipment, your time, and your money. In addition to Metals & Wear Particle Analysis, Physical Properties Testing is a great way to determine the health of your machinery. There are a broad range of tests that can detect the physical properties of your oil: -Acid Number: Engine oils without an excess of detergent-dispersant additives are tested for an acid number to determine the degradation of the oil from any ingested acids during service. A used oil sample is tested against a new oil sample to determine the level of contamination and the base oil acid number. Depending on the severity of service and acid number level, it may be more important to monitor small changes in the number. -Base Number: It’s important to test diesel engines, gasoline engines, and natural gas engines that use a high ash oil for a base number. This test is performed with samples of used and new oil to evaluate the activity level of oils in the additive package. Two tests are typically used to determine a base number: ASTM D-2896 and ASTM D-664. -Water Content: The Karl Fischer Method, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrophotometry, and the Crackle Test are used to determine the water content in a sample. -Fuel Dilution: These tests help evaluate the combustion process in an engine and detect any raw fuel that may have found its way into the oil through leaks in lines, pumps, injector nozzles, carburetors, and fuel management systems. Infrared Spectrophotometry is typically used to decide fuel dilution. -Solid & Semi-Solid Contamination: Diesel, natural gas, and gasoline engine oils are subjected to severe environmental conditions so they are made to withstand more contamination than a typical lubricant. This is why it is important to determine if contamination is from soot or oil degradation. Infrared Spectrophotometry is used in this case, too.  In turbines, hydraulics, compressors, and gears a Centrifuge test is used to determine gross contamination. -Glycol/Antifreeze: Using FT-IR, new oil and used oil are compared to determine glycol and antifreeze contamination. -Viscosity: Proper viscosity is the most important criteria of a lubricating oil and is what the performance of the machinery is based off of. Testing is based off of three different classifications and improper viscosity can lead to catastrophic machine failure. As you can see-Metals, Wear & Physical Property Testing can all together provide you with the big picture of your equipment and oils.

  • Metals/Wear Particles Analysis

    Condition Monitoring is imperative to proper machine functioning. The oils and lubricants in your machines constantly pick up particles, additives, and contaminants as they course through the parts and gears. If enough of them accumulate, you could be looking at expensive maintenance or full replacement. That’s why proper Metals Analysis and Wear Particles Analysis are needed to accurately evaluate the condition of your oil. A Spectrometer is the typical tool used to identify unwanted wear metals in lubricants. The sample is ionized in a control chamber which causes each element to emit its own characteristic wavelength of light, thus making it easy to identify with a photomultiplier tube and a computer which elements have contaminated the lubricant. This method can be somewhat difficult at times due to the need for particle size consistency. Wear Particle Analysis is a non-intrusive examination of the oil-wetted parts of a machine in order to determine important information about the machine as a whole. The shape, composition, size, distribution, and concentration of particles in the machine lubricant can sufficiently determine abnormal wearing and basic operating wear mode to detect imminent machine issues. Machines can wear in a variety of ways:
    • Rubbing wear- Normal, benign wear as the result of typical sliding
    • Severe sliding wear- Deformations caused by excessive loads or weight bearing
    • Cutting wear- When one surface penetrates another
    • Rolling Element Fatigue- Wear found at rolling contact points
    • Red oxides- Can be rust or free metal core depositing into the lubricant
    • Corrosive wear- Caused by acids, additives, and water
    • Inorganic Contamination- Dust, dirt, salts, gasket particles, asbestos, etc.
    • Organic Contamination- Skin, filter material, paper, microorganisms, etc.
    In addition to understanding Metals/Wear Analysis, knowledge of Physical Properties in Condition monitoring is essential. Stay tuned for our next blog to learn more!

  • Why Perform Oil Analysis?

    If a person isn’t feeling well, he or she can go to the doctor, who will run tests to find out what is wrong. But how do you tell if there is an underlying problem with your machine? This is where oil analysis comes in handy. Oil analysis is a non-destructive way to gauge the health of your machines and/or engines. For more than 50 years, manufacturers and machine shops have been using oil analysis to test the wear and tear of their machines to ensure that they are performing to the best of their ability. There are a number of ways to test the oil in a machine or engine. Generally, laboratories evaluate the condition of the fluid, the level of contamination, and the make-up of the fluid components. Many of the various testing procedures are quick and painless, but can tell you a lot about the condition of your machines. One way to test a machine lubricant is to compare a sample against a “virgin” lubricant that has never been used. This helps determine if the oil sample still has adequate lubrication levels to be effective within the machine. A sample can also be observed in a Flash Point test where it is heated to the point of known ignition. If the sample ignites below the temperature that it is supposed to, then it is known to be contaminated. Often, fuel is found in oil samples and can be dangerous. In addition to comparison testing, oil can also be analyzed for leftover metal particles, which indicate poor condition of the wearing parts of an engine or machine. All of this information is helpful because it points out potential issues, determines suitable oil change intervals, and alerts you to impending equipment failure. Properly conducted oil analysis will help extend the life of your equipment and reduce maintenance costs. Why wait until your equipment fails or needs costly repairs? Perform an oil analysis now to gauge the effectiveness of your machinery and nip any expensive problems in the bud.

  • Lubrication: The Key to Making Bullet Trains Run Smoothly

    High-speed bullet trains are making their way to the U.S. as the California High-Speed Rail Authority begins their plan to construct rails between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The average speed of the trains are expected to reach 180 miles per hour, which will drastically cut travel time. Bullet trains also help reduce gas emissions since the energy used per person is a fraction of what’s used in a plane and automobile with one person. The project will also create thousands of jobs and will help stimulate the Californian economy. With all of these benefits at stake, it is important that the trains run flawlessly. Luckily for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, China implemented a bullet train railroad system recently and there is plenty to learn from their experience. One of the most important lessons learned from China’s Star Bullet Train project was how important it is to pick the right lubrication. During the testing process, they found that the motor bearings overheated and could not handle speeds above 100 miles an hour. They realized that the problem wasn’t the motor, it was the grease that lubricated the bearings. They were using a grease thickener which was not the proper lubrication for the bearings since the thickener separated from the oil once it reached 500˚ F.  They tested various forms of grease until they discovered synthetic aluminum complex grease, which helped lower the bearing temperature and stopped the overheating problem. The new lubrication also kept the bearings in great condition, which ultimately saved costs since they needed to be changed less often than predicted.  By realizing the significance of lubrication, the Star Bullet Train team was able to make the trains run smoothly.

  • The Answer is Blowing in the Wind: Part 2

    Congratulations to the U.S. wind energy industry! It had its strongest year ever in 2012 -- installing a record 13,124 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity, and achieving over 60,000 MW of cumulative wind capacity and therefore putting more workers back into the work force. The American wind power industry is creating even more jobs and investment in 2013. During its historic year of achievement, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, providing some 42 percent of all new generating capacity. So, after investing $25 billion of private capital into the U.S. economy last year, the wind industry is poised to drive investment into more local communities and support continued manufacturing jobs. The U.S. wind industry generates tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity. For example, new projects provide local taxes, (or payments in lieu of taxes) that strengthen the economy of rural communities by providing income to farmers who allow wind turbines on their land. Communities often receive financial incentives or other support to encourage development. The five-year forecast projects continued growth. Over the past five years the average growth in new installations has been 27.6 percent each year. More than 200 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity could come on line before the end of 2013. Because Texas is the state that uses the most electricity and relies on wind energy for approximately 9.2 percent of the electrical generation on the power grid, recent industry projects in Texas are widely seen as important sources of new mechanical and electrical engineering jobs. More workers are being hired at tower manufacturing plants and blade factories in Colorado, while a northern Nebraska energy company has made a $350 million capital investment that could create as many as 300 construction jobs. Both Minnesota and North Dakota have large wind farm developments in the works, too. The geographic diversity and abundance of American wind installations is a reflection of strong U.S. wind resources that will only continue to grow and add jobs to the economy. Currently, 25 states have enough wind potential to supply as much electricity as is currently generated from all other energy sources combined in their state.

  • The Answer is Blowing in the Wind: Part 1

    Using wind power is nothing new. Sailing vessels have been harnessing the power of the wind for thousands of years. In fact, the earliest known wind-driven mechanism is the windwheel that Greek engineer Heron of Alexandria used to power a machine in the 1st century A.D. Iran was using windmills by the 9th century. By 1000 A.D., windmills were in widespread use across the Middle East, Central Asia, China and India… and were used for salt-making, grinding flour, draining land, and building. Early immigrants to America brought the technology with them. Now, wind energy is on the upswing – globally, as well as here in the United States. Because wind is a clean source of renewable energy with no air or water pollution – plus: wind is free -- operational costs are nearly zero once a turbine is erected. The largest wind turbines generate enough electricity to supply roughly 600 homes! The US wind energy industry experienced record-breaking growth in 2012 as a U.S. power provider. American wind power's generation shot up 17 percent last year, and produced more than 10 percent of the electricity in nine states, up from five states in 2011. Those numbers are likely to continue growing as new investments and wind projects are announced. Across the country, wind energy produced 3.5 percent of the nation's electricity during 2012, according to latest figures. In a total of 14 individual states, wind energy currently provides 5 percent or more of generation. Industry experts predict that if this pace of growth continues, by 2050 the answer to one third of the world's electricity needs will be found blowing in the wind. (Apologies to Bob Dylan)

  • Shelter from the Storm: Safeguarding American Machinery from Wear and Tear

    There are machines in this country that run continuously day and night for years on end. Blast furnaces, power plants, oil refineries, continuous processors, continuous steel casting operations, chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, rotary kilns, and synthetic fiber production: all of these items are subject to strenuous operation 24/7 with no finish line in sight. Indeed, there are certain behemoth blast furnaces still in full operation in America that were built in the mid to late 1940s. For those uninitiated into the finer points of oil analysis and proper mechanical lubrication, it’s not an unreasonable question to ask: how can this machinery keep “rumbling along”? When the metal surface of a long-running machine or machine component starts to show signs of wear and tear there are various – oftentimes multiple– reasons why this is the case. Metal bearings, for instance, can suffer from anything ranging from fretting, abrasion, corrosion, and electro-corrosion. These are just four common examples with their own interrelated causes. Here’s a quick breakdown of these types of metallic “fatigue” found frequently in components:
    1. Fretting: This type of surface damage most frequently occurs in the bearings of industrial machinery and/or automobiles, and is caused by overextended vibrations or oscillatory abuse. Once the surface of the metal gets exposed, fretting opens the way for oxidation within the untreated metal lying beneath the surface.
    2. Abrasion: When two opposing surfaces periodically or continuously grind against each other, scrapes, skid-marks, and other types of scouring are sure to follow, especially if the grind-action is rapid and repeated. Using oil lubricant that possesses greater viscosity and is free of abrasive particles is a great means to keep surfaces from “running aground” against one another.
    3. Corrosion: Frequently found in all kinds of metals, corrosion is one of the leading costs of industrial upkeep in this country. A 2002 study revealed that the direct impact of corrosion on American infrastructure and mechanized upkeep in 1998 was a cool $276 billion (or 3.2% of the nation’s GDP at the time). A way to eliminate corrosion of metals is to apply fresh lubrication oil that’s specifically geared towards the metal or alloy in question: that way the rust belt never starts creeping in.
    4. Electro-corrosion: Certain metals or metallic compounds, when exposed to water or some other such electrically conducive fluid charged with low-amp currents, have a nasty habit of beginning to dissolve. You might often see black spots erupting across a particular expanse of metal, or frayed edges that, if tested, would prove acidic. One of the best strategies when fighting this kind of corrosion is to apply specialized, treated lubricants and/or hydraulic fluids that aren’t so electrically conductive. The metallic surface in question resists dissolution that much more effectively as a result.
    We at Herguth provide tests and lab analyses for all these types of potential wear and corrosion in your machine components. Our testing is quick, efficient, and bound to produce accurate diagnoses when brought in for lab-work. Herguth looks forward to helping you prevent these types of damage, and more, through our meticulous and thoroughgoing procedures.