Estimating Turbine Oil Oxidation

From steam turbine to gas turbine, from power generation to refining, turbines are pervasive throughout industry. While turbine systems can endure a whole host of different failure modes, studies by major turbine manufacturers such as General Electric have pointed to the lubricant as one cause of poor reliability.

However, other factors such as maintenance and operational practices, electrostatic discharge, contamination, and lubricant chemistry have been identified as root causes. Turbine oils must endure a host of different challenges due to heat from the process itself, compressive heating, aeration, and internal and external contamination, including water and particles.

Perhaps the most misunderstood failure modes are those induced by the turbine oil itself. While turbine oils are naturally pure, well-formulated oils, the long-term stress caused by adverse operating conditions can result in both thermal and oxidative degradation of the oil which can cause problems with the reliability and operability of turbine systems.

Even in the most controlled systems, turbine oils are subjected to a number of stressing factors that can lead to premature degradation of the fluid. These include heat, aeration, water and metal catalysts from the machine itself. While the chemical processes are complex, the end result is the same: the formation of by-products of oxidation such as sludge and varnish.

Post time: May-29-2022
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