Oil and Water Shouldn’t Mix

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Restoration of Steam Turbine Oil Demulsibility

Steam turbines are responsible for up to 80% of global electricity production. Because steam powers these units, ingression of water into steam turbine oils is a common concern. As the saying goes: “Oil and water don’t mix.” When they do, failures and costly downtime may result. A lubricant’s ability to separate from water (demulsibility) is, therefore, paramount to the generating steam turbines reliability.

While turbine oils are engineered to readily separate from water, their ability to do so (demulsibility) often becomes impaired during service. The factors which impact demulsibility are many; fortunately, the solution to this problem remains the same regardless of its root cause. Indeed, well-engineered ion exchange-based treatment systems have shown considerable promise when it comes to the restoration of turbine oil-water separability. In addition to restoring demulsibility, these resins also allow for the removal of oil breakdown products (varnish etc.) which present a further challenge to power generators.

Presenter Background: Matthew G. Hobbs is the Senior Chemist at EPT Clean Oil, where he manages research, development and the Fluid Technical Center services. As a technical expert, Matthew works with users to provide lubricant contamination solutions in critical industrial applications.  Before joining EPT Clean Oil, Matthew obtained his PhD in synthetic chemistry from the University of Calgary and was the General Manager of a National oil analysis laboratory.

Matthew is also an active contributor to ASTM, recognized recently with the Award of Appreciation from ASTM International. This award recognizes the tremendous contributions Matthew has made to the Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels, and Lubricants Committee. Of note, Matthew was a vital contributor to the updates of the following ASTM Standards: