Oil and Water Shouldn’t Mix: Restoration of Steam Turbine Oil Demulsibility

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EPT Clean Oil Whitepapers

Matthew G. Hobbs, PhD, Peter T. Dufresne Jr.

Paper Abstract

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 is, therefore, paramount to the generating unit’s 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.

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