Overview

Grand Prix racing utilizes cutting-edge high performance engines operation at extreme RPMs and temperatures. To keep the very valuable engines operational and competitive requires a team of mechanics paying careful attention to the engine and lubricant condition. To support this, engine condition monitoring based on oil analysis has become a widely practiced technique by Formula One racing teams. 

Not only do the racing teams themselves take Spectro Scientific instruments to races, but the companies that design, build and test racing engines also are Spectro Scientific customers. We welcome the opportunity to continue to be of service to existing customers and to assist new customers with their oil analysis instrumentation requirements.


Challenges

The biggest concern for race teams is wear debris that can damage the engine. Being able to identify the debris tells them where the particles are coming from. Most of the top teams use Optical Emission Spectrometers to analyze up to 32 metals found in the oil. Knowing what metals are present and in what concentration allows them to trend things like engine wear and oil breakdown. 

Oil viscosity is also a critical component for a high speed engine. Any breakdown in viscosity could cause an engine to fail.


Typical Tests

 Wear

Particle composition - it is often important to understand the elemental composition of particles in order to find out where they came from. Optical Emission Spectroscopy gives the user elemental information for up to 32 elements, from Li to Ce (varies with application).

 Chemistry

Total Base Number (TBN) - TBN measures the amount of active additive left in a sample of oil. The TBN is useful for people who want to extend their oil usage far beyond the normal range. The TBN of a used oil can aid the user in determining how much reserve additive the oil has left to neutralize acids. The lower the TBN reading, the less active additive the oil has left.

Viscosity - The main function of lubrication oil is to create and maintain a lubrication film between two moving metal surfaces. Insuring the viscosity is within recommended ranges is one of the most important tests one can run on lube oil.  

Oxidation, Nitration, Sulfation - Lubricating oil at elevated temperatures can react with oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, as well as sulfur in fuel, to form undesirable by-products that can affect the oil's viscosity and lead to corrosion or damage of equipment. 

 Contamination

Glycol - Glycol is found in engine coolant. If glycol is found in engine oil it typically indicates there is a leak in the engine that allows coolant into the oil system. Glycol reduces the oil's protective properties and can cause catastrophic damage to the engine components.


Racing Products

Portable Oil Analysis Kits

The product combinations are powerful for different applications as together they provide more comprehensive analysis of oil condition, contamination and machine wear condition. All Spectro portable devices are battery powered, use small amounts of oil, and do not require solvents or chemicals to clean. They are light weight and ideal for field use.  

The building blocks of the combination kit are the FluidScan 1000 Series handheld IR oil analyzer, MiniVisc 3000/3050 kinematic viscometer, and FerroCheck 2000 total ferrous magnetometer.


Resources