Gas turbine under repair in gas-fired power station.

Optimising Your Turbines

5 Tips for Turbine Oil System Care and Maintenance

With demand for reliable energy supply ever more important, one of the biggest concerns among turbine users is unplanned downtime.

Below are five steps you can take to get the most out of your turbines and keep them operating at their maximum efficiency.

1. Keep It Clean

Worker inspects turbine in power station

Turbine oil cleanliness is key to ensuring the longest equipment and lubricant life.

Contamination may result in the formation of deposits and varnish, which can significantly:

  • reduce the life of bearings and gears
  • affect servo valve operation
  • promote system foaming

That is why you need to inspect your system frequently and ensure that your filtration system is in full working order.

2. Watch Out For Water

Bubbles in oil

If water cannot separate from the oil, free water or an oil-in-water emulsion is created and may interfere with the oil film needed to support the loads carried by the bearings.

Water can:

  • promote rust and corrosion,
  • speed up the rate of oil oxidation
  • promote other degradation processes such as hydrolysis.

Water levels should be monitored using a good oil analysis programme. Water contamination limits should be checked against manufacturers’ recommendations but, in general, water levels should be kept below 500 ppm for gas turbines and 1,000 ppm for steam turbines.

3. Analyse Your Oil

Laboratory scientist performing oil condition test

All turbine oils should be subjected to a proactive oil analysis monitoring.

Many published turbine oil condition monitoring guidelines are available from ASTM, ISO and various equipment manufacturers and lubricant suppliers.

4. Eliminate Leakage

Engineer inspecting a turbine in a nuclear power station

It is critical to trace any oil leaks to their source and to eliminate them as soon as possible.

The following culprits are common sources:

  • Bearing seals
  • Oil-supply lines
  • Valve connections
  • Cooler tube joints

5. Maintain Accurate Records

Keeping accurate records will alert you to sudden changes, to enable quick investigation.

Temperature:

  • Oil and water to and from the coolers
  • Oil in reservoirs
  • Oil return from main bearings
  • Oil inlet to purification equipment.

Operations:

  • Turbine operating hours
  • Oil condition, laboratory results and service hours
  • Time and amount of make-up oil added to system
  • Time of filter changes and service hours
  • Any repairs or replacements.

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