Two companies are among those focused on improving detection of water in engine oils and early prediction of associated problems
A year-long trial of a sensor used to detect moisture levels in engine lubricant oils has convinced one of the world’s largest shipping companies to develop the technology further.
NYK Group developed and is patenting what it calls an ‘advance alarm system’ following initial trials for the system on its Haramachi Maru vessel.
NYK said the system “can detect anomalies on a real-time basis” from water ingress into lubricating oils in engines.
“Controlling the quality and properties of lubricating oil is very important for vessel engines to operate stably,” NYK said in a statement.
“Water can contaminate lubricating oil when cooling water for the engine leaks or the oil purifier fails, during which time the bearings and other components can be seriously damaged.”
The trial on board Haramachi Maru collected sensor data over the course of a year concerning moisture content for lubricating oil in the vessel’s main engine using a proprietary shipboard information management system (SIMS).
Following development of the SIMS and the new alarm system, NYK intends to develop another alarm system for generators.
Describing how the system operates, NYK said “The advance alarm provides early warning signals when the permissible range between the actual relative moisture content of lubrication oil exceeds the proper moisture content for the surrounding environment based on the temperature and humidity in the engineroom. After detection, immediate action can be taken at an early stage.”
The sensor-led system is part of a fleet-wide sustainable growth strategy, according to NYK, that is focused on digital technology. The company’s medium-term management plan calls for the use of condition-based maintenance (CBM) to cut costs.
NYK said the system “can detect anomalies on a real-time basis” from water ingress into lubricating oils in engines
Following the announcement that Rivertrace is now the agent for Bio-UV in parts of Asia, the company has launched an enhanced Smart version of its water in oil sensor.
The Smart WiO (Water in Oil) sensor continuously monitors dissolved water content in oil allowing ship operators to proactively limit the risk of engine and machinery corrosion.
All oil can absorb a certain volume of dissolved water up to a maximum concentration called the ‘saturation point’.
When the saturation point of an oil is exceeded, any unabsorbed water will fall out of the oil as free water and can cause corrosion inside the engine.
The saturation point can change with an oil’s age, cleanliness, temperature and other factors including composition, whether the oil is mineral or synthetic and the formulation of additives.
Water in oil content has traditionally been measured by test kits which detect free water in lubricating oil or emulsion from 100.02% humidity.
However, any water content values measured exceeding 100% humidity indicate that free water is already present, and the engine is being exposed to corrosion and oil degradation.
To mitigate corrosion risk from water in oil, Rivertrace has introduced the Smart WiO Sensor that uniquely uses capacitive measurement of absorbed water in oil with continuous monitoring.
The Smart WiO Sensor continuously monitors water content value as % humidity taking consideration of the oil temperature.
The sensor also measures the saturation of the oil independently from the oil type and oil age.
Its intended use is for preventative maintenance protocols and condition-based monitoring for lubricating and hydraulic oil, detecting water presence to avoid costly damage and premature wear with early warnings from pre-set alarms.
At 50% humidity the WiO Sensor shows a pre-alarm allowing the crew to take preventative actions to reduce the water content.
At 90% humidity the main alarm is triggered alerting crew before any free water is present in the oil.
Rivertrace business development manager Gillian Peden said: “As specialists in water quality monitoring we are expanding our range or products to offer our customers a partner for their maintenance and compliance monitoring needs. Rivertrace is committed to ensuring that the marine industry has the right tools to measure Water in Oil and limit the risk of engine corrosion and premature wear with our solution the new Smart WiO Sensor.”
At 50% humidity the WiO Sensor shows a pre-alarm allowing the crew to take preventative actions to reduce the water content
At 90% humidity the main alarm is triggered alerting crew before any free water is present in the oil