Everything you wanted to know about compressor lubrication

Compressors are an extremely important part of almost every manufacturing facility. These components, which are frequently referred to as the “heart” of any air or gas system, need specific care, especially with regard to lubrication. Understanding the operation of the compressors as well as the impacts of the system on the lubricant, which lubricant to choose, and what oil analysis tests should be carried out will help you grasp the crucial role lubrication plays in compressors which is why all the industrial air compressor manufacturers recommend the knowledge of compressor lubrication.?

Compressors can appear to be quite complicated when it comes to lubrication. You and your team will have a better chance of maintaining and boosting the health of your equipment if you and they have a better understanding of how a compressor works, how the system affects the lubrication, choose the right lubricant, and oil analysis tests.

Types of strains on lubricants

The type of strain the lubricant may experience while in use is one of the key aspects to take into account before choosing a compressor lubricant. Moisture, severe heat, compressed gas and air, metal particles, gas solubility, and hot discharge surfaces are frequently lubricant stressors in compressors.Remember that gas compression can harm lubricants and cause viscosity to noticeably decrease along with evaporation, oxidation, carbon deposition, and condensation due to moisture accumulation.

You can use this knowledge to focus your search on the best compressor lubricant after you are aware of the major issues that the lubricant may cause. Strong candidate lubricants would have anti-wear and corrosion inhibitor ingredients, and superior oxidation stability. Additionally, synthetic base stocks might function better across a wider temperature range.

How to select the appropriate lubricant?

The health of the compressor will depend on having the right lubricant. Referencing the instructions from the original equipment maker is the first step (OEM). Depending on the type of compressor, the internal components being lubricated and the viscosities of the compressor lubricant can differ significantly. The manufacturer’s recommendations can serve as a good place to start. Next, think about the gas that is being compressed because it has a big impact on the lubricant. Problems with high lubricant temperatures may result from air compression. Gases containing hydrocarbons have a propensity to dissolve lubricants, which eventually reduces viscosity.

Chemically inert gases like ammonia and carbon dioxide may interact with the lubricant to reduce viscosity while also causing soaps to form in the system. When there is too much moisture in the lubricant, chemically active gases including oxygen, chlorine, sulphur dioxide, and hydrogen sulphide can create sticky deposits or turn severely corrosive.

Additionally, consider the conditions that the compressor lubricant is exposed to. The industry in which the compressor is used, the ambient temperature, the operating temperature, nearby airborne contaminants, whether the compressor is inside and covered or outside and exposed to severe weather, and so on.

Analysis tests on sample oil

An oil sample can be the subject of a wide range of tests, so it is crucial to exercise caution while choosing these tests and the sampling frequencies. The three main areas of oil analysis that should be tested are the fluid characteristics of the lubricant, the presence of impurities in the lubrication system, and any wear debris left over from the machine.

Viscosity, elemental analysis, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, acid number, varnish potential, rotating pressure vessel oxidation test (RPVOT), and de-mulsibility tests are frequently advised for determining the fluid properties of lubricants, though there may be slight variations in the test slate depending on the type of compressor.

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