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Integrated Oil Condition Monitor and Debris Sensing System


OBJECTIVE: Develop an oil condition monitoring system for automated real-time evaluation of lubricant contamination and degradation, including the characterization of ferrous and non-ferrous debris and particulate. DESCRIPTION: Oil condition monitoring has been widely implemented by the Navy through the Joint Oil Analysis Program (JOAP), which provided common standards and practices for oil sampling and laboratory analysis. The ability to embed automated oil analysis capabilities directly into lubrication systems would provide increased responsiveness and awareness of conditions that promote corrosion and increased wear rates. One potential beneficiary of such technology is the lubrication system for the Joint Strike Fighter LiftFan, which has an open-air breather design that permits water intrusion. An applicable technology that monitors this lubrication system in an automated, embedded fashion would be highly desirable. Despite special handling, preservation, packaging and an oil lubricated environment, the low chromium content permitted in conventional high-strength steels, renders the steel non-stainless and susceptible to corrosion. Newer alloys are being developed, such as Pyrowear 675 that offer some corrosion resistance, but are limited by cost and material characteristics, rendering them not suitable for all required applications. Corrosion leads to premature surface crack initiation and spalling that cascades into accelerated surface damage, increased vibration, and potentially catastrophic failures of drive system components. Other mechanisms of lubricant contamination, due to seepage into the lubrication system, misidentification of fluids, or improper handling result in oxidation and additive depletion causing increased wear of contacting surfaces and corrosion-fatigue. Additionally, variations in usage patterns and operating conditions inevitably affect the optimal timing for replenishment (topping or replacement), creating additional rationale for on-platform oil condition monitoring. Develop and demonstrate a fluid contamination monitoring capability using representative industrial sources (water, incorrect lubricants, fuels, hydraulic fluids, glycols, cleaning agents, etc.). Develop packaging with form factor and interconnections that permit direct substitution of existing debris monitoring systems on applicable end-items, and which facilitates oil sample collection for supplemental laboratory analysis. Demonstrate the performance of the integrated oil debris monitoring capability for ferrous and non-ferrous particle distributions. The system should include all necessary sensor suite instrumentation, embedded electronics and processing for operating as an automated system, and should measure, compute and/or infer characteristics of lubricant condition, debris and entrained particulate that are pertinent for preserving the operational integrity and durability of oil-wetted components. Relevant characteristics and properties pertaining to lubricant quality and condition include moisture content, additive depletion, oxidation and sulfation. The technology should have sufficient sensitivity and measurement frequency to provide rates-of-change of the tracked parameters (condition indicators), and the ability to correlate observed changes with operational usage and parametric data. PHASE I: Design and prove feasibility of a system for performing integrated oil condition/debris monitoring, including all necessary sensor suite instrumentation, embedded electronics and processing for operating as an automated system. PHASE II: Develop and fabricate a prototype system. Develop and refine the sensing instrumentation and algorithms to include additional indicators and characterizations of lubricant condition, and further improve upon the sensitivity, accuracy and repeatability of the Phase-I design. PHASE III: Finalize the monitoring system design, conduct necessary qualification testing , and transition developed technology. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Lubrication condition monitoring and wear debris analysis in industrial environments (including power generation facilities, process plants, mass transit and commercial aerospace) have predominantly relied upon manual, periodic oil sampling strategies. An integrated oil condition monitoring system, offering comprehensive monitoring coverage would afford significant safety and total ownership cost improvements, and would be immediately applicable across numerous industrial sectors. REFERENCES: 1. Higgins, F., Agilent Technologies Application Note, (2011, May 01), Onsite additive depletion monitoring in turbine oils by FTIR spectroscopy, 2. NAVAIR 17-15-50.2, (2011, 15 September), Joint Oil Analysis Program Manual (Volume II): Spectrometric and Physical Test Laboratory Operating Requirements and Procedures. 3. NAVAIR 17-15-50.3, (2011, 15 September), Joint Oil Analysis Program Manual (Volume III): Laboratory Analytical Methodology and Equipment Criteria (Aeronautical).
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