Many businesses today are dealing with a brown sticky substance which seems to magically appear on certain engine parts. It doesn’t look good and it can contribute to premature engine wear. This stuff is known as lube oil varnish and even though there is nothing “magic” about it, it and can be a real problem for some companies today. So what is this material and what can you do about it? Let’s look a little closer and see.
Problems with Oxidation
When lubricant circulates throughout an engine, it becomes hot and oxygen from the air mixes with it. This causes the lubricant to oxidize and special antioxidant additives are depleted, making insoluble materials form. This is where the problem begins.
Why is Oxidation So Bad?
Oxygen is a life giving substance, but this same substance can be responsible for wear and tear. Even in the human body, the effects of oxygen lead to cell death and aging. When iron oxidizes it begins to form rust and this is the beginning of the end for this metal.
When lubricants oxidize they begin to break down and this allows lube oil varnish to form. It is a thin brown film which is sticky in nature. Because it is insoluble, it is not removed by the circulation of lubricant so it gradually begins to build up.
When an engine part is varnished, friction is greater and this lessens the effect of lubricants. Over time, wear and tear is much faster and this can lead to premature failure of many parts.
As lubricant degrades or breaks down, varnishing begins to occur. However, the breakdown is brought on by more factors than simply oxidation. For example, if one uses low grade lubricants they may not have the right kinds of additives to limit breakdown. Here are some additional factors:
* Contamination – should antifreeze, gasoline or grease contaminate engine oil, it will breakdown at a faster rate.
* Static electricity
* Long periods of inactivity
* Poor combustion
* Mixing incompatible lubricants
* Waiting too long to change oil
How Can You Limit Lube Oil Varnish?
Filtration systems are ineffective because the insoluble materials usually pass through. However, some lubricant distributors provide holistic based varnish mitigation services. This is a proprietary process which can provide long term solutions for many businesses today. The method is designed to work without the need for downtime and can be used in many commercial and industrial applications.
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