You are on page 1of 2

Performance Evaluation of New and InService Turbine Oils

unplanned outage, potentially resulting in millions of dollars of downtime costs. According to a 1991 study by General Electric (GE), turbines contribute on average 20 percent of all forced outages in a conventional power plant. Among this 20 percent, GE noted that 19 percent of turbine/generator problems were associated with the lube oil system. For this reason, monitoring turbine oils has become commonplace in the power generation industry. Viscosity is the most important characteristic of a turbine oil because the oil film thickness under hydrodynamic lubrication conditions is critically dependent on the oil’s viscosity characteristics. Turbine blade clearances are critical to power plant efficiency and reliability. These blade clearances are directly impacted by lubricant viscosity. Changes in oil viscosity can result in unwanted rotor positioning, both axially and radially. Axial movements directly impact turbine blade efficiency and in extreme cases can lead to blade damage. Radial movements caused by changes in viscosity can result in oil whip, where the rotor does not settle into one radial position. Oil whip can often be identified from vibration analysis, but is often a direct result of high viscosity. ASTM D4378-97 identifies an RPVOT drop to 25 percent of the new oil RPVOT value with a concurrent increase in Acid Number (AN) as a warning limit. It should be noted that the RPVOT test is designed to determine a lubricant’s suitability for continued use, not to compare competitive oils. In steam and gas turbines, RPVOT testing should be conducted on an annual basis with an increased frequency as the turbine oil approaches 25 percent of its initial value. Some utilities time the test just before scheduled outages, to allow time to plan for an oil change if necessaryTurbine Oil Stability Test (TOST) ASTM D943 The TOST test attempts to determine the expected turbine oil life by subjecting the test oil to oxidative stress using oxygen, high temperatures, water and metal catalysts, all of which increase sludge and acid formation. Because a TOST test can take up to a year or more to complete, it is impractical as an inservice oil test and is rarely performed for this reason Water by Karl Fischer

Titration - ASTM D6304
Testing for water, particularly in steam turbines, is important because water is a precursor to oil oxidation and rust formationExcessive water will also alter an oil’s viscosity, which reduces its load -carrying capacity. Studies also warn that water levels above 250 ppm in hydrogen-cooled generator windings may lead to stress corrosion cracking of generator rotor retainer rings. Water in a turbine oil in warm storage tanks, where the oil is typically stagnant, can promote the spread of microbial growth that will foul system filters and small-diameter gauge and transducer line extensions. ASTM D4378-97 identifies 1000 ppm or 0.1 percent of water as a warning level Testing for water should be conducted on a quarterly basis, at a minimum using coulometric Karl Fischer Titration (ASTM D6304), complete with codistillation. Acid Number (AN) - ASTM D664 Sharp increases in AN may indicate contamination or a severely oxidized oil. Organic acids formed by oxidation can corrode bearing surfaces and should be addressed in a timely manner. ASTM D4378-97 offers guidelines of 0.3 to 0.4 mg KOH/g above the initial value as an upper warning level. Testing for AN should be conducted at least on a quarterly basis using the potentiometric titration method (ASTM D664).

Rust ASTM D665 A
Rust particles act as oxidation catalysts and can cause abrasive wear in journal bearings. In-service oil testing should be conducted with distilled water as identified in D665 A. ASTM D4378-97 considers a light fail as a warning limit. Testing for rust should be conducted on an annual basis, or if the lube oil system is exposed to water.