Static Electricity can cause more than just a bad hair day

In the labyrinthine world of industrial lubrication systems—those silent workhorses behind countless manufacturing operations—lurks a concealed foe: static electricity. Far from a benign inconvenience or the cause of a bad hair day, rogue static in hydraulic fluids, turbine oils, and gear lubricants can unleash catastrophic electrostatic discharges. But fear not, for this article lifts the veil on this elusive adversary and positions oil analysis as your ultimate shield and sword.

The Enigma of Static Charge Build-up

What Causes It?

You might wonder, what stirs the cauldron of static charge in lubrication fluids? Well, it’s a mix of several culprits:

  • Too clean and dry or too dirty and wet oil : This is something you will never hear your filter supplier say, and you risk insulting the sacrosanct filtration deities to say such a thing, but the cleaner an oil, the more of an insulator it is and the stronger the static discharge that can build up, but the less likely to discharge. However, on the other hand, too dirty an oil in an otherwise good insulator (low conductivity) oil can cause excess friction from the particles and water within it giving lower level, but more likely discharges.

  • Flow Velocity: The faster the fluid flows, the more turbulent it gets, causing friction and charge separation to spiral out of control.

  • Low Conductivity: Some oils are poor conductors, making them a breeding ground for static charges. Insulating oils 

  • Excess Component Wear: Old, worn-out parts? They stir the pot even more, inducing greater fluid turbulence and static generation.

  • Temperature also plays its part: warm oil has a lower viscosity, which means faster flow and more static charge generation. So it is also a balance of reducing the risk of too high system temperatures.

The Tell-Tale Signs of Electrostatic Discharge

What Should You Look Out For?

Detecting electrostatic discharge is akin to solving a mystery:

  • Audible clicks or crackling noises near equipment—think of them as the villain’s footsteps.

  • Visible pitting or scorch marks on component surfaces—these are your fingerprints.

  • Anomalies in oil analysis report—increased acidity, oxidation byproducts, you name it.

  • A chronic uptick in particle count and a dip in oil conductivity compared to new oil.

  • Premature oil darkening, thickening, and sludge formation—clear red flags.

Your Arsenal for Static Control

Innovative Strategies

Arming yourself against static electricity involves a layered strategy:

  • Routine Oil Analysis: Think of this as your early warning system against the twin enemies of particulate contamination and moisture ingress.

  • Grounding and Bonding: Basic, yet effective, they act like your shield in the battle against potential electrostatic discharge events.

  • Special Additives: Metal deactivators and anti-stat agents are your secret weapons.

Moreover, ionising bars and the right construction materials can further reduce static generation.

The Final Word: Why Oil Analysis is Non-Negotiable

As we stand on the cusp of industrial evolution, combating static electrification in lubrication systems is not just about risk mitigation but operational excellence, safety, and performance. In this quest, oil analysis is not just a mere player; it’s the director, the script, and the leading actor.

So, is oil analysis worth it? The question should really be, can you afford to ignore it? Oil analysis is not just a solution but the future of static electricity management in industrial lubrication systems. Choose wisely; choose oil analysis. Enquire today by clicking the Contact Us button below.