To read this content please select one of the options below:

Investigation of the measurement precision of oil analysis instruments, using fully formulated oils. Part 1: spectroscopic instruments

Sven Berg (Element Six, Robertsfors, Sweden)
Ulf Jungmar (Bodycote Materials Testing AB, Linköping, Sweden)
Jan Lundberg (Division of Operation and Maintenance Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden)
Pekka Vähäoja (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland)

Industrial Lubrication and Tribology

ISSN: 0036-8792

Article publication date: 27 September 2011




The aim of this study is to determine the variation of the different oil analysis instruments in terms of standard deviation and CV‐values, when measuring samples of fully formulated hydraulic and gear oils taken from working systems.


In this investigation, two different spectrometric techniques, inductively coupled plasma‐optical emission spectrometers (ICP‐OES) and rotating disk electrode‐optical emission spectrometers (RDE‐OES), have been studied to determine the instruments' precision of measurement and ability to measure the absolute level of contamination. The study was based on a series of measurements using artificial contamination mixed with oil.


The ICP has better precision of measurement of the two instruments, but cannot predict the absolute values of contamination when oil samples are only treated by organic solvent dilution if the samples include large or dense particles. It is therefore not too good, with the sample pre‐treatment method used, at detecting wear processes that produce dense/large particles, such as pitting failure. For instance, microwave‐assisted acid digestion could be used for sample pre‐treating to obtain accurate results in that case. It should, however, be able to detect wear mechanisms that produce small particles such as abrasive wear in any case. The ICP has a repeatability value of r=3 percent and a reproducibility value of R=12 percent for contamination levels of between 50 and 400 ppm and r=0.6  and R=2 ppm, respectively, at values below 50 ppm. The RDE cannot predict the absolute value of contamination if this includes large or dense particles if proper sample pre‐treatment is not used. It is therefore not good at detecting wear mechanisms that produces dense/large particles (if the oil samples are not pre‐treated properly) such as pitting but should be able to detect abrasive wear and similar processes that produce small particles in any case. The RDE's precision of measurement is not as good as the ICP, with a reproducibility variation of R=r=25 percent for contamination levels between 20 and 500 ppm and R=r=6 ppm for contamination level below 20 ppm.

Research limitations/implications

Only the effects from lubricating oils are studied.

Practical implications

This study will significantly increase the industrial knowledge concerning measurement precision in particle contamination measurement systems.


No similar study is found.



Berg, S., Jungmar, U., Lundberg, J. and Vähäoja, P. (2011), "Investigation of the measurement precision of oil analysis instruments, using fully formulated oils. Part 1: spectroscopic instruments", Industrial Lubrication and Tribology, Vol. 63 No. 6, pp. 404-411.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles