Dangers of ASTM D2896 Base Number Testing

 

ASTM D2896 Base Number

The first concern I have with ASTM D 2896 is a concern of laboratory safety, which I am quite concerned with and most customers are unaware of. Simply put, the safety concerns of ASTM D2896 are considerable. The reagents used for this test are basically some of the most hazardous I have ever encountered in my professional career.

Hazardous Chemicals

The titrant used in ASTM D2896 is Perchloric Acid. This is a very strong acid that is corrosive, an oxidizer and may cause organ damage over prolonged periods of exposure. As an oxidizer, it has been known to cause explosions. One of the solvents used in this test is Chlorobenzene, a chlorinated solvent that is extremely harmful to the environment. In fact, it is so harmful that it is banned in many countries around the world. Suffice it to say, the chemicals used in this test are dangerous to those who perform the test.

Perchloric Acid

On February 20, 1947, a violent explosion rocked the city of Los Angeles, California resulting in the deaths of 17 people and the wrecking of 116 buildings including the complete demolition of the O’Connor Electro-Plating Works, source of the blast. From the mass of information and misinformation, which varied from the early rumors of a powerful new army explosive, prematurely set off, to the decision, almost three weeks later, of the coroner’s jury that the explosion may have resulted from the contamination of a solution of perchloric acid and acetic anhydride with “easily oxidizable materials,” perchloric acid emerged as the nation-wide object of underwriters’ investigations.

 

Right Tests, Right Fluids, Right Equipment, Right Environment

My other concerns are with providing fluid analysis results that use the right tests on the right fluids for the right equipment in the right environment. Tests and test methods could change based on all of those factors, and too many customers request ASTM D2896 to measure an oil’s base number for good, yet misguided, reasons.

Background on Base Number Testing

First, a little bit about base number and how it is measured. The results from a base number test is vitally important to you from a maintenance and reliability aspect. Alkaline elements are added to base oils to react with the weak acids formed during diesel fuel combustion. The alkaline reserve neutralizes the acids and form slightly basic degradation products that are no longer capable of reacting to the weak acids. Eventually the alkaline reserve in the lubricant is depleted to the point where the oil can no longer protect equipment from acid corrosion.

Brief History of ASTM D2896

ASTM D2896 was designed purely to determine alkalinity reserve in new lubricants. I’ll repeat that last bit, as it is the crux of the issue; new lubricants. The test uses Perchloric Acid as a titrant because it reacts quickly and reliably with the large alkalinity reserve in new lubricants. ASTM D2896 then measures the titration product to determine the strength of the alkaline reserve. This method is reliable, which is why it is still used by oil manufacturers and listed on oil spec sheet.

However, perchloric acid is too strong to use when weakly-basic degradation products are present, especially oils used in internal combustion engines. When ASTM D2896 is applied to in-service fluids, the perchloric acid reacts to every basic element available. Instead of measuring the alkaline reserve like we want, it also titrates with the degradation products. This can result in what ASTM refers to as a “falsely exaggerated” or sometimes even “falsely understated”. For these reasons, ASTM says:

“When the base number of the new oil is required as an expression of its manufactured quality, Test Method D2896 is preferred, since it is known to titrate weak bases that this test method (ASTM D4739) may or may not titrate reliably.”

 

ASTM D4739 – A New Method?

The solution required a new method for base number testing in in-service fluids. ASTM D4739 substitutes Hydrochloric Acid as the titrant rather than perchloric acid. Because hydrochloric acid is weaker than perchloric acid, it only reacts to the alkaline reserves and not the slightly-basic degradation products.

 

 

Further, ASTM D2896 can give very poor inflection points or even multiple poor inflection points on in-service lubricants, especially if they are seriously degraded. This makes giving accurate and reliable results challenging at best, and flat out wrong, at worst. To make this scenario even worse, perchloric acid will react with wear metals in the in-service fluids. This will result in more titrant being consumed, giving a higher base number results. This can result in hiding a problem that could be resolved if you knew the real value.

The ASTM methods are pretty clear on this. ASTM D2896 should be used for new lubricants and ASTM D4739 should be used for in-service applications. However, many customers request ASTM D2896 on in-service lubricants. Why is that? I believe the main driver of this is the fresh lubricant specification or certificate of analysis lists ASTM D2896 as the method for base number testing.

ASTM D4739 / ASTM D2896 Scenario

An important part of the discussion is this essential fact- not all the tests performed on a lubricants certificate of analysis are pertinent for condition monitoring of in-service lubricants. Many tests performed on fresh lubricants are designed to prove that all additives have been added to the blend as a quality control test. As a result, if you only request testing based on your certificate of analysis from the manufacturer, you are not getting the right data to make an accurate and reliable maintenance recommendation. Best case scenario, you are paying for testing that gives you no or limited information on the maintenance and reliability of your equipment. Worst case scenario, you could be getting misleading results. This is particularly the case in the ASTM D4739 / ASTM D2896 scenario.

Change to ASTM D4739

As a result, ASTM D4739 is definitely the method of choice for in-service fluids. Do yourself a favor, make the change today and improve the quality of the information you can use to improve your reliability.

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Published July 7, 2020

The Importance of Submitting a Baseline Reference Sample

What is a Baseline Reference Sample?

A baseline reference sample is a sample of new or unused product submitted to the fluid analysis laboratory. Submitting a baseline sample allows you to gain an understanding of the starting values of the product in use. It is important that the baseline sample being submitted has not been introduced into a system as this can introduce variables such as commingling, contamination or degradation. Ideally the sample should be pulled from a verifiable source such as a bulk tank, tote, pail or bottle.

What are the benefits of submitting a Baseline Reference Sample? 

It is important to have an understanding of what the starting values are for your lubricant. Knowing where the base number (BN) and/or acid number (AN), oxidation and nitration values start will provide a more precise prediction of how the used oil sample should be flagged as the lubricant degrades. Likewise, if the additive levels are known then it is easier for the Data Analyst to determine if the lubricant was actually installed in the machine.

What does the laboratory do with my Baseline Reference Sample?

Baseline samples are account specific, meaning they will be used on the account for which they were submitted and appear on used oil sample reports using the same product. When submitting a baseline sample, it is important to correctly fill out the sample paperwork to indicate it is a baseline sample by checking the box labeled “baseline reference”.  Selecting this box will automatically enter baseline sample as the component type.

Being careful to provide the complete product information (manufacturer, product name and viscosity grade) and using a specimen from a known, verified source will ensure the information generated by the laboratory will be useful and reliable for comparison against future used or suspect samples. Once an account has an established baseline reference sample, it is important that used samples with the same product have the product information listed exactly the same as the baseline sample. This will ensure the baseline and the used samples are linked for comparison on your reports.

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Published June 9, 2020

Optimizing Intervals in Energy-Producing Turbines

Wind turbines are playing an increasingly important role in greener energy production. This means it is vital that these units operate at optimum capacity for longer periods. This requires a high level of equipment reliability and, due to the remote locations or access difficulties, all types of maintenance need to be planned at optimum intervals to ensure maximum uptime and reductions in total cost of ownership (TCO).

The operating fluids inside a turbine (lubricating oil in gearboxes and hydraulic systems, fluids used in the cooling systems and the greases used) all play a significant part in optimizing operation of the wind turbine. All of these operating fluids should be monitored closely to determine fluid condition, levels of contamination and measure levels of wear metals generated within each system.

What is also becoming more important is the connectivity and integration of all of these fluid sample results with other measurements and operational readings taken from the turbines. With the importance of planning maintenance at optimum operational intervals and reducing unscheduled downtime, monitoring these sample results within OEM asset management or ERP systems, ensures the whole O&M process is made far more efficient.

Using POLARIS Laboratories® unique DataConnect service, companies can benefit from work orders being automatically generated from critical samples within your own operating system, as well as assessing the sample reports alongside other readings to ensure maximum uptime of the turbines.

Using a global fluid analysis laboratory will also ensure operators benefit from having all of their data in a single silo, again making the process of monitoring and mining sample data more consistent and efficient.

 

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Published May 27, 2020

Sink or Swim: Fluid Analysis + Marine

In today’s shipping environment, uptime, safety, equipment life extension and increasing oil drain intervals are, and should be, the focus of any fluids analysis program.

Realizing the most value from your programs, whether lubricants, coolants, fuels, grease or filter debris analysis can help avoid:

  • Unscheduled down time and unplanned maintenance and associated costs for repair
  • Urgent requirements for lubricant replenishment inventory on short notice or in remote areas
  • Extra lubricants expense incurred by changing the oil unnecessarily without the benefit of a historical analysis report
  • Undetected problems manifesting into eventual catastrophic equipment failure

Oil analysis has been around since the 1940’s but, has matured significantly since then. Equipment has also evolved as design or environmental pressures have placed requirements for some equipment to be lighter in weight, be more fuel efficient and be manufactured to higher tolerances with more exotic materials. The result often places more stress to the lubricant, often with a lower volumes of lubricant in circulation to save weight.

Standard Practices

Take for example, marine or power plant engines with anti-polishing rings in the cylinder liners. The use of anti-polishing rings result is lower oil consumption which is an advantage for the equipment owner, but already places higher duty on the lubricant due smaller oil sump volumes and less need for frequent oil top ups. Monitoring critical parameters such as base number with laboratory and onboard testing has worked well and is already proven to be an industry standard practice.

Seeing An ROI

The benefits of your fluids analysis program can very easily pay for itself by being able to more closely monitor equipment and fluid condition, help manage implementation of oil drain interval programs, and in all cases provides information on oil and machinery condition necessary to make informed decisions about operational reliability and future maintenance.

With management reporting tools, a fluids analysis program can bring all of this information onto one platform, making interrogation of key performance indicators across assets much easier to visualize. Used properly, outliers can be detected more quickly. Of course, oil analysis is only one part of a complete maintenance program and should be used in conjunction with vibration, acoustics and thermography where applicable.

Free webinar on Fluid Analysis in the Marine Industry

If you’re interested in learning about fluid analysis as it relates to the maritime industry, I encourage you to attend our upcoming webinar on June 16. There is no cost to join and open to everyone!

Sink or Swim: How Fluid Analysis Saves Marine Engines

June 16 at 11 a.m. ET

See what will be covered and register here.

To learn more about POLARIS Laboratories® please contact us. We will show you the POLARIS Laboratories® way of helping you build a custom fluids analysis program with all the benefits of linking to your CMMS program, providing you with actionable fluids analysis commentary, and an online reporting portal, all with the benefits of being an independent laboratory and helping you save money.

 

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Published March 25, 2020

Keep Calm and Sample On

As governments try to slow the spread of COVID-19, businesses face new challenges involving logistics, shipping, border closures and quarantines. However, people are still counting on businesses like yours to continue transporting, producing, powering, mining and operating like normal.

So, where does that leave you? Keep sampling, that’s what!

If you are able, we encourage you to keep calm and keep sampling. After all, many years of feedback from our customers confirms fluid analysis is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep equipment operational, especially because it also saves maintenance technicians time. Knowing how helpful our service is to our customers, POLARIS Laboratories® has put new policies in place to keep workers healthy and our laboratories operational. Click here to read our official COVID-19 message to customers.

We’re Here to Help You

Circumstances may arise that close one of our laboratories or prevent samples from being transported to your normal laboratory. In that case, our “one lab, multiple locations” system will provide you with quality testing and analysis no matter which of our laboratories your samples arrive at. Ship your sample to whichever location you can get it to, and we’ll work quickly to get testing started and results back to you. A list of our six global laboratory locations is listed below. We’ve got you covered.

Indianapolis
7451 Winton Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46268

Houston
10910 W. Sam Houston Parkway N.,
Suite 700
Houston, TX 77064-6314

Salt Lake City
3060 W. California Avenue, Suite B
Salt Lake City, UT 84104

Edmonton
5140 75th Street
Edmonton, Alberta Canada T6E 6W2

Guatemala
Calzada Atanasio Tzul 22-00 zona 12, 01012
Centro Empresarial El Cortijo II, Ofibodega 319
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Poznan
ul.Rubież 46H, 61- 612
Poznan, Poland

We will all face challenges with this crisis, but we can overcome them by working together. POLARIS Laboratories® is here when and where you need us.

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published March 24, 2020

How to Optimize Your Asset Health

The average asset manager runs an average of approximately 10,000 hours on the asset before it’s sold. So, you’ve had your asset for a while, but it has come time to sell it. Yet, you wonder how much life is left on that asset? If you keep it for another 10,000 hours, you can save a lot of money in replacement costs and maintenance. Your asset has run well, you know its maintenance history and you ask yourself do I really need to sell it?

Deciding whether to repair or sell

Many fleets run equipment to about 80 percent of their life expectancy then sell off. But, did you know you can incorporate filter debris analysis to determine equipment reliability at that 80 percent life expectancy? If an issue is found, you can proceed with a rebuild/repair or they can sell. Things to consider when making the decision to sell:

  • Did you buy your asset used?
  • How was your asset’s maintenance history prior to you buying it?
Utilizing filter debris analysis

You can utilize filter debris analysis (FDA) to determine how your asset is and how it’s holding up. Here are a couple of recommendations how to incorporate FDA into your program, depending on the estimated life expectancy:

0-20%You could characterize this as break in or, in the case of used equipment, the baseline of your equipment. What is the wear pattern in the first 20% of your usage of the asset? Submitting three filters with oil samples on regular intervals can give you a pattern.
20-80% Recommended to test only when wear metal trends are increasing, or you see a significant jump in wear metals
80%> This is what is referred to a senior asset. Submitting three filters with oil samples on regular intervals can give you a pattern. Then review to determine retesting interval based on results of the FDA results. You may find you need to sell your asset before significant maintenance will occur, or you may find your asset has plenty of life on it.
See what’s being caught in your filter

FDA is a great tool to add to your asset reliability toolbox. It compliments fluid analysis testing by seeing not just the data circulating in the oil, but what is being caught in the filter. This data is crucial to understanding the reliability of your equipment.

See how one company was able to to save more than $250,000 by performing the testing and avoiding gearbox replacements.

Is filter debris analysis something you want to start performing on your asset? Contact your account manager or custserv@eoilreports.com to add it to your program.

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published March 18, 2020

Managing Your Fleet in Real-Time

Maintenance managers in the construction industry have more information available at their fingertips regarding the health and risk of their equipment than ever before. Real time information regarding equipment location, operating conditions, component temperatures, fault codes and a host of other telematics and on-board sensors data. This information is not just raw data, but is converted to useful information, including alerts, dashboards, charts and graphs allowing informed maintenance decisions.

Fluid Analysis Adds Value

We all know the value of a successful fluid analysis program and how, when implemented and ran correctly, can reveal the earliest stages of abnormal component wear and help determine the optimal drain intervals. Fluid analysis is the leading science for non-invasive testing available for a predictive maintenance program.

So why have you not incorporated your fluid analysis results with the other information you are collecting?

Connections are Happening

Imagine if you had, at your fingertips, an electronic copy of the latest operators walk -around report which indicates ‘low coolant level’, in addition, the engines on-board sensors reveal excessive engine temperature, and you also have your latest engine oil analysis report showing high level of sodium and potassium (which is a sure indicator of coolant in the engine oil).

Would it not be of great benefit to have all this combined information easily available? Just think of the value in not only deciding if the equipment should be shut down immediately or allowed to run, but think of the value regarding the insight of the maintenance actions / repairs that need to be taken!

So, back to the question, why is your fluid analysis data not part of the real time information you are focusing on?

Getting Connected is Easy

Today, with POLARIS Laboratories’s integration solution, DataConnect, your fluid analysis data is syncing directly to your CMMS is just an email away. Perhaps you would like the laboratory to work with your third-party telematics service provider for the development of the dashboards, charts and graphs you would like to see, we can do that. In today’s connected world, it only makes sense to integrate all the available data, including your fluid analysis!

Connect your account manager or custserv@eoilreports.com with your interest in this no-cost service we provide for our customers.

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published February 5, 2020

Oil Analysis + Asset Reliability

Equipment Reliability

A well-applied, managed fluid analysis program becomes a major tool in maintaining your equipment in tip-top condition. While it is an additional cost, fluid analysis can pay dividends in keeping the equipment running longer, minimizing repairs and decreasing downtime. Lubricating oil is the most common of the fluids analyzed (click here to see how oil analysis can impact your overall equipment reliability), but there are other equipment fluids just as important that should be considered for analysis: coolant, diesel fuel and greases. Testing all the lubricants and fluids that run through your system can provide a complete picture of what’s going on – and can identify potential problems before they become catastrophic.

In order to establish a great fluid analysis program, you need to start by partnering with a strong, certified laboratory that can analyze all these fluids, and with ample experience in interpreting the results.

Going Beyond the Analysis Report

Your sample data can be utilized to determine trends, as well as wear rates that will impact equipment scheduled maintenance, repairs and overhauls. Your laboratory partner should also assist you with best practices to establish a strong and complete fluid analysis program. Learn more tips for managing an effective fluid analysis program below:

Managing Your Program

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Published January 14, 2019

6 Steps to Effective Program Management

Today’s oil analysis capabilities offer a great deal more than just monitoring component health. With today’s technology, along with performing the proper tests, we can monitor the condition of the oil, see if it is suitable for continued use, reduce the amount of used oil disposal, adjust maintenance intervals and strategies, adjust component replacement schedules, improve forecasting and budgeting and increase component life hours.

So how can we be sure to maximize the return on investment from oil analysis?  Well, in my opinion, I believe it needs to encompass the following six steps to be a “world class – best practices” fluid analysis program.

1. Selecting a Quality Laboratory

  • Accurate, reliably and timely
  • Certifications and accreditations
  • Consistent turnaround time
  • Testing capabilities
  • Relevancy of maintenance recommendations
  • Information management tools
  • Facility locations

2. Determine Program Goals

  • What are the goals? Is it to extend oil drain intervals, reduce failures, extend equipment life expectancy, control maintenance and lubrication costs, just to name a few
  • Whatever the goal(s), if you do not establish these goals upfront, and do not have the appropriate testing set up to match these goals, your program will never reach its full potential

3. Create Detailed Equipment List

  • Equipment list information should be submitted to the laboratory before oil samples are ever submitted for analysis
  • Consider the following when compiling the list: Unit Type, OEM, Model Number, Lubricant Manufacturer, Lube Type/Grade, Filtration Type/Size, Sump Capacity and Sampling Interval
  • Read more about adding and edit equipment in HORIZON® here.

4. Identify Resources Available

  • Data Manager – a “gate keeper” to manage and store the data, who ideally is a person with good computer and internet skills
  • Sampler – an “oiler” who is trained on sampling devices/techniques, selects the appropriate testing, takes representative samples at specified intervals, and follows the proper procedure for submitting all of the required information along with the sample to the laboratory

5. The Importance of Time

  • Once taken, sample(s) should be shipped immediately to the laboratory
  • Upon receiving the laboratory report, findings must be evaluated and work order(s) issued, so data analyst’s recommendations will be acted upon as soon as possible, and then findings are communicated back to the laboratory

6. Report to Management

  • Management speaks in the language of “dollars and cents”, so you need to communicate the “savings” to upper management in terms of reduction in oil costs, uptime reports, failure reductions, etc., and ultimately perform/document cost savings due to oil analysis. Read more about finding that “Aha” moment and realizing ROI here.

Find out more about our solutions to effectively managing your program.

Maximize asset reliability and regain control of your production schedules with an effective fluid analysis program by POLARIS Laboratories® . . . it costs so little to protect so much.

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published October 22, 2019

 

Tips for Pulling a Fluid Sample for Analysis

From oils to coolants, from coolants to grease – we all have our own methods for pulling a sample. But are you truly getting the best representative sample to send for testing? An accurate, representative sample will get you the most reliable sample results, so you can take the correct maintenance action. Want to learn more about best practices for pulling a sample?  See below for some tips:

Oil and Coolant Samples

There are several methods for pulling oil and coolant samples including a vacuum pump, probing valve and a pushbutton method.

  • Tips for using a Vacuum Pump Method
    • Use to pull samples from a dipstick or non-pressurized system
    • Pull a sample when equipment is at or close to normal operating temperature
    • Make sure the tubing is long enough to reach the middle of the reservoir tank
  • Tips for using a KST Series Probing Valve Method
    • Use with valves installed on a pressurized system with a minimum of 4 psi to a maximum of 1000 psi
    • Pull sample when equipment is at or near normal operating temperature
    • Wipe the valve clean with a dry and lint-free cloth
    • Flush at least 3 times into a “waste container” under the valve to purge stagnant oil and debris.
    • Fill the sample bottle bottle approximately 3/4 full
  • Tips for using a KP Pushbutton Sampling Valve Method
    • Use with valves installed on a pressurized line with a minimum of 4 psi to a maximum of 100 psi
    • Pull sample when equipment is at or near normal operating temperature
    • Remove protective valve cap and wipe opening with a dry and lint-free clean cloth
    • Flush at least 3 times into a separate container and then dispose of the waste oil
    • Fill the sample bottle bottle approximately 3/4 full

For full, step-by-step instructions for taking an oil sample or a coolant sample with these methods, view our technical bulletins or view our Fluid Analysis Sampling and Submission video.

Fluid Analysis Sampling and Submission

Grease Samples

There are two methods for collecting grease samples including a standard grease sampler device or a T-Handle.

  • Grease Sampler Method
    • Each kit comes with a plunger, syringe, spatula and grease sampler used collect your sample
    • Collect grease from the component and fill syringe
    • Use the syringe to fill the grease sampler
  • T-Handle Method
    • Use this method to collect a representative sample when a spatula can’t reach the active zone
    • Attach the grease sampler to the T-Handle tool
    • Measure the appropriate depth of the sample by inserting the locking knob into the proper hole
    • Fully insert the grease sampler and T-handle into the component until the tee contacts the housing face

For full, step-by-step instructions for taking a grease sample with a grease sampler or using the T-Handle tool, view our technical bulletins or view our demonstration videos below.

How to Take a Grease Sample with a Grease Sampler

How to Take a Grease Sample with a T-Handle

After collecting your sample, apply the bar code sticker to the sample bottle/container, submit your sample information online and ship the sample in to the laboratory nearest you for processing and testing.

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published September 17, 2019