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Since most machinery from simple car engines to huge transformers rely on oil to maintain peak efficiency, it’s extremely important to regularly test that oil has the correct properties.
In its most basic form, crude oil is not a useful product. By the use of several techniques such as distillation the crude oil is broken down into a range of useful by-products, including common petroleum used in car engines, plastics and transformer oil.
Oil is particularly important in transformers where it acts as a form of insulation, to supress both corona and arcing. It also acts as a coolant to stop the transformer from overheating. As both corona and electrical arc discharge can be extremely damaging to the overall efficiency of a machine (and humans), these suppressing measures are vital for high voltage equipment.
As a result of electrical and mechanical changes, oil’s general efficiency also changes over time when used in products such as transformers. There’s also a significant chance of the oil becoming contaminated by chemical reactions between the oil, high temperatures and electrical components, meaning that regular checks on the performance of oil must be taken. Without these tests in place, oil rapidly loses its ability to work correctly, rendering your machinery useless until it is repaired. It can be stopped by simply testing the oil, assessing whether it needs to be replaced, filtered, or regenerated.
As oil has to be broken down into very specific forms such as transformer oil, making sure it is still in the correct form is an essential process. The electrical properties of oil can suddenly change due to changes in oxidation, acids, sludge gas and even water absorption, so that’s why it’s essential to regularly test oil samples for substances that shouldn’t be present. To do this, you’ll need an oil test set.
By feeding a small sample of the oil you’re working with into and oil tester it can be analyzed extensively, providing you with information about what’s exactly inside the oil you’re testing. Samples are generally taken from machinery over a time period to assess general wear and tear, as the presence of contaminants and ‘wear debris’ from the machinery can indicate the machine’s overall condition. During the transportation of samples it’s extremely important that they’re safely secured, as contamination can take place as the oil is moved from the machine to the oil testing kit.
If you’re interested in a high-quality oil testing method we recommend you check out the Megger Portable Karl-Fischer Universal Test Set. This quality product works with the Karl-Fischer principle, which at its basic level is the detection of moisture and other liquids within oil to check that the oil hasn’t incorrectly separated. By injecting a sample of oil into this device you can then assess it for this form of damage before printing out your results with programmable outputs.