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Machine condition monitoring based on oil analysis is widely practiced by power plants, whether they are nuclear, coal-fired steam, combined cycle gas turbine, medium and low speed diesels, windmills, or geo-thermal. All of these plants have critical turbines, pumps, bearings, fans, compressors, gears and hydraulic systems. Failure of critical equipment may cause plant shutdown at great cost.
Many power plants have on-site oil analysis capability although more frequently, power companies have a central lab servicing multiple plants. Many power plants chose to send their samples to commercial oil analysis labs that are likely to be using Spectro Scientific instruments.
Power plant oil samples are typically subjected to:
- Testing for elemental content to determine wear metals, contaminants and additives
- FT-IR analysis to determine lubricant degradation and second phase fluid contamination (i.e., water, fuel glycol)
- Viscosity testing
- Particle counting to determine contaminant and wear particle levels
- Ferrographic analysis if routine tests show problems or for extremely critical components
In the special case of liquid-fired gas turbines, the Spectroil M/F is used to measure fuel contaminants such as alkali metals (Na, K and Li) and other deleterious metals (V and Pb), the presence of which can lead to turbine blade corrosion and greatly shortened service life.