Oil analysis: what goes on at the lab

Supplier: Clean Oil Services
21 April, 2010

The following is a step by step guide to the processes your oil sample is subjected to on arrival at our laboratory.

Step 1

When the sample arrives at our lab, the first thing we do is log the sample in giving it a number. Throughout the entire procedure we only know that sample by the number, which eventually becomes your report number.

Step 2

The first test performed is to check for water, which we do by screening with a crackle test; if positive, then a Karl Fisher titration accurately measures water content.

Step 3

The sample is then thoroughly agitated in an Ultra-Sonic bath to be sure that all of the contamination is in suspension in the sample. After vigorous shaking, samples are ready for analysis to commence.

Step 4

Slides are prepared for microscopic examination and samples prepared for spectrographic burns and viscosity is measured on all samples at 40 degC.

Step 5

Engine oil samples are checked for diesel dilution in a closed cup flash tester and diesel concentrations determined.

Step 6

Samples are burnt through the Spectrometer, where we measure 17 element levels in PPM (Parts Per Million) which includes 6 wear metals, 2 contaminants and 6 additives.

Step 7

Particle counts are performed under microscopic (X 200) examination using our particle analysis program which identifies particles by their shape and colour, with a complete breakdown of particle type and size grouping which is later used for trending and diagnostics.

Step 8

Photos are taken of every sample for attachment to the report, which enable you to see your oil condition and wear metals rather than try to interpret the numbers on the report. You can clearly see the condition of your oil.

Step 9

Titrations for Total Acid Number (TAN) for turbines, hydraulic systems and long life oils and Total Base Number (TBN) for engines are performed on samples requiring these values.

Step 10

All results are correlated on your report where comments and recommendations are performed manually to supply you with the ultimate recommendations to suit your operation conditions.

Step 11

Contact is made to discuss suspect reports and results e-mailed with hard copies posted. You now have your result downloaded within 24 hours of the sample arriving at the lab.