Bypass Oil Filtration
Keeping your engine running smoothly and extending its lifespan is a top priority for any vehicle or machinery owner. One of the key factors in achieving this is ensuring that your engine’s lubricating oil remains clean and free from contaminants. Whether you’re a seasoned mechanic or an engine enthusiast, understanding these filtration methods is essential for cleaner engines, reduced wear and tear, and, ultimately, a longer engine lifespan. The best oil filtration method is to combine both the full-flow oil filters and centrifugal bypass oil filtration.
What are the primary roles of lubrication oil in an internal combustion engine?
The four (4) primary roles of lubrication oil, or lube oil, in an internal combustion engine are:
An internal combustion engine is made up of a series of interfacing metal components. These metal parts have to seamlessly ride against one another, creating as little friction as possible. From bearing/pin surface rotation to gearing to the piston/liner interaction, friction is a necessary evil to counteract, as without it, there is simply no functionality. Tribologists have studied ways to reduce friction in these moving components for years, resulting in thousands of lubrication options across a multitude of applications. With components moving quicker than our minds can process, lubrication optimization is key to reducing frictional buildup within the engine.
Where an internal combustion engine is not technically a thermodynamic heat engine, heat generation is most definitely a natural byproduct of operation. As cool oil flows through the intricacies of the engine, weaving in and out of tiny, strategically placed tunnels, heat is absorbed by the oil, allowing for adequate expansion and retraction rates of the various metals it encounters. Oil/Water heat exchangers within the system are designed to ensure proper oil temperatures are seen at the different points in the system, yielding warmer oil to some locations and cooler oil to others.
As the engine operates, particulate forms due to various reasons. Whether due to carbon buildup from combustion or degradation of oil, this particulate can become detrimental to engine operation if it is not promptly removed or flushed. Oil flow through these passages allows for the oil to pick up that particulate and carry it within the stream. As the oil passes through strainer and filtration, that particulate is removed from the system, and clean oil is delivered back to the engine. Oil flow requirement calculations are critical to ensuring sufficient particulate removal from the system.
This role seems obvious after reading the importance of the other three roles. A properly designed and maintained engine lubrication system is key to an asset’s life cycle, protecting not only the engine components but the operator as well. From assisting in sealing to anti-corrosion capabilities, lubrication comes with a multitude of built-in protection qualities. To state it plainly, there is no engine without the right lubrication system to protect it.
What are the key tips for optimizing oil drain intervals?
The five (5) key tips for optimizing oil drains are:
1. Take a look at the oil and check with the original equipment manufacturers (OEM)
2. Participate in oil testing and analysis
3. Run data management reports
4. Common Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for extending lubricant drain intervals include:
ACID NUMBER: By measuring the amount of acid present in the used lubricant, the levels of oxidation and contamination can be indicated. If the acid number level is under both the OEM and the lubricant manufacturer’s recommendation, it can be safe to continue the use of the lubricant.
BASE NUMBER (ENGINES): This test indicates the level of additives in your oil, specifically detergents and dispersants, that neutralize the acidic byproducts of combustion. If the lubricant’s base number levels are above the lubricant manufacturer’s condemning limits, the oil may be safely extended.
OXIDATION: If oxidation levels are below the condemning limit suggested by the lubricant manufacturer, this may mean the oil can still be used and the drain extended.
NITRATION: It is critical to monitor in Natural Gas engines.
VISCOSITY: If the lubricant’s viscosity falls within the lubricant manufacturer’s range, this can determine if the oil can be extended and utilized longer.
5. Take action on sample reports
Due to the critical role the lubricating oil plays in overall unit operation and efficiency, the industry standard is to take monthly samples for analysis. The method, and location, the oil is sampled must be consistent and standardized to provide accurate, dependable results. Becoming familiar with how the oil system is designed is important. It is recommended that this is done both by reviewing the schematic provided in the manual and by walking down the unit itself. A fully established oil analysis program can only yield benefits if the analysis results are evaluated and trended. Each sample represents a snapshot in time, and often, if an alert comes back, damage has already occurred. Developing a spreadsheet where values are trended is key, not only for month-to-month comparison on the same unit but also to compare the oil properties in like assets to determine if accelerated degradation is occurring.
Optimizing Oil Drains can decrease waste, increase equipment reliability, reduce the cost of purchasing new lubricants, and lower maintenance costs. It is no secret contamination has a negative impact on engines and machinery. The ISO cleanliness code is one of the most popular methods of reporting cleanliness values from particle count testing. The ISO 4406 method uses a “preferred number” set (also called Renard Series) as shorthand for the results. The ISO 4406 code chart identifies the ISO code number for 4 microns, 6 microns, and 14 microns.
In general, lower ISO 4406 code numbers overall are more desirable, potentially having less impact on machinery, though size and filter rating may mitigate that. All things being equal, larger particles have a greater chance of spanning the oil film diameter between two metal surfaces and damaging one or both of them. As the surface is damaged, more particles are created, resulting in a snowball effect leading to potential critical failures of the system. However, the sample could have been collected after the source of the particles and before they were collected in the fluid filter. In this case, the smaller numbers could be more important because they cause pitting or sliding wear at other points in the system. Filtering out small particles poses its own problem. They are more difficult to capture than larger particles and require specialized filters to collect.
Oil Filtration Fundamentals
Lube oil becomes unfit for service after a period of use for two (2) main reasons. First, the accumulation of contaminants in the lube oil. Secondly, the chemical additives change (additive depletion and oxidation). These two (2) factors cause deterioration of the oil and prevent it from doing its job of lubricating and cooling engine parts. Oil filtration removes contaminants either by primary full-flow filters or secondary bypass filters (also called secondary oil filter).
How does lube oil become contaminated?
DUST AND DIRT: Design limitations of air cleaners, some oil fill caps, and crankcase ventilation systems allow some dust and dirt to enter the engine. Leaks in the intake system also permit unfiltered air to enter the engine. However, proper maintenance of the engine and its accessories can minimize the amount of contaminants entering the lubrication system and extend engine life.
METAL PARTICLES: Normal wear of engine parts in an engine produces very small metal particles that are picked up and circulated by the oil. Particles of dust and dirt increase the rate of wear and generate larger metal particles that, in turn, are quite abrasive and circulate through the engine with the lube oil. While oil filters help keep these particles at a minimum, they can not remove them entirely or to a particulate size that does not cause wear to moving parts.
WATER: Combustion produces water vapor or steam. When engine temperatures increase, most of the water turns into vapor form and goes out through the exhaust. However, when engine temperatures are low, such as at start-up, warm-up, and short-trip operation in low ambient temperatures, the water vapor condenses (turns into a liquid) on cylinder walls and collects in the crankcase oil. This contamination, if not removed (periodic oil changes), leads to the formation of sludge, rust, and corrosion.
ACIDS: The combustion process produces acidic gases which, like water vapor, condense on cylinder walls at cold engine temperatures and also find their way into the crankcase oil. These acids combine with water to cause rust and corrosion. When water condensation in a diesel engine combines with its acid by-products, it produces what is known as sulphuric acid.
SOOT AND CARBON: Incomplete combustion produces soot, carbon, and other deposit-forming materials. An engine running too “rich” or with too much fuel increases the amount of contaminants. In gasoline engines, light-load and low-speed operations increase these combustion byproducts more than high-load, high-speed operations. Diesel engines produce more of these byproducts with low-speed, high-load operations.
FUEL DILUTION: When an engine is started or running abnormally, some unburned fuel in liquid form is deposited on cylinder walls. That means raw fuel leaks past the rings into the crankcase, where it reduces the viscosity of the oil. Dilution lowers the film strength of the oil and increases oil consumption. Usually, this is a minor problem when engine operation is at high speed or high temperatures, but it can be a problem in engines that are consistently used for short trips.
Automotive experts agree dirt is the number-one cause of engine wear. Analysis by Federal-Mogul Corporation reports that 43.4 % of all engine bearing distress is caused by dirt. Engine dirt particles are so small – mere dust specks – and an engine is a highly sophisticated piece of machinery crafted from the most durable metal alloys, yet these minute particles can easily destroy any high-tech engine. The answer lies in the fact that dirt particles are extremely abrasive. They consist of razor-like flakes of dust and airborne grit drawn into the engine through the intake manifold, as well as manufacturing scarf and wear-metal particles generated inside the engine. These particles are carried by the lube oil into the precision clearances between bearings and other moving parts. Once they work in between these parts, they grind and gouge surfaces, altering clearances and generating more abrasive debris. This wear cycle continues, making precision components sloppy and fatigued until they fail altogether.
Full-Flow Oil Filters vs. Bypass Oil Filtration
Oil filtration is the key to preventing costly engine repairs caused by dirt and contaminants. Oil filtration removes contaminants by trapping and holding them outside the system of oil circulation. In order for an oil filter to be truly effective, it must be able to capture contaminants of all types and sizes.
Full-Flow Oil Filters
An average full-flow filter traps particles as small as 35-40 microns. The full-flow filter capacity can not remove finer particles because the oil must be filtered quickly while removing most of the particles in the oil, yet not restrictive to the oil supply.
The full-flow oil filters are installed directly into the line of oil circulation. The full flow of all the oil passes through the oil filter as the oil journeys between the oil pump and the engine. A full-flow filter must be able to remove and hold contaminants without obstructing oil flow to the engine. Most oil filters on the market compromise the filtration of finer particles by using a thin layer of porous filter paper. These filters have almost no extended cleaning ability since they have a low capacity for storing dirt and contaminants. These “surface-type” paper filters quickly become restricted as debris builds up on the paper surface.
Filtration is limited to a finite particle size because finer filtration will decrease the oil flow rate.
When this happens, the filter by-pass valve opens and allows unfiltered oil into the engine. Some oil filters can actually become damaged by water saturation and destabilize under oil pressure, thus allowing unfiltered particulates to remain in the oil. By-pass valve failure also remains a well-known problem that can lead to complete flow restriction in colder temperatures staving the engine of its oil supply.
Bypass Oil Filtration
Bypass oil filtration uses a secondary filter with the purpose of eliminating nearly all contaminants in engine oil and not starving the engine during this process.
Need to reduce engine wear? Use a Bypass Centrifugal Oil Filter to remove contaminants!
Bypass filters have high capacities and eliminate much smaller particles than full-flow filters. It is called bypass filtration because the oil flows from the bypass filter back to the sump and bypasses the engine. This continual process will eventually make all of the oil analytically clean, reducing long-term wear, and can extend drain intervals even in diesel engines. Centrifugal bypass filters are the most effective and economical way to remove smaller particles effectively.
Centrifugal bypass oil filters, using centrifugal force, remove a wide range of contaminated particles extending into the sub-micron range. Centrifugal force separates the contaminants from the lube oil based on their relative particle density, not only large particles but also fine, submicron contaminants. The oil flow rate through a centrifuge oil filter remains consistent throughout the service interval.
Centrifugal bypass oil filtration has many benefits. Centrifugal bypass oil filters significantly extend engine life. The majority of engine wear is caused by particles in the 5–20 micron range. Centrifugal bypass filters remove contaminants down to 1/10th micron. Less engine wear keeps the engine in better condition, extending its life. Centrifugal bypass filters efficiently remove the smaller particles and soot from the lube oil. This reduces maintenance costs and the total cost of ownership (TCO). Centrifugal bypass filters dramatically increase engine protection, helping avoid costly repairs associated with engine wear. Centrifuge bypass filters can help users extend their oil drain intervals. Make sure to use oil analysis when extending oil drain intervals.
Outstanding Protection at an Affordable Price
This process improves oil cleanliness without compromising the oil flow rate through the engine system. The best oil filtration method is to combine both the full-flow oil filters and bypass centrifugal filtration.
IOW Group Bypass Oil Filtration Systems
Unlike conventional bypass centrifuge filters, IOW Group bypass oil centrifuges use bowl discs to increase the separation efficiency, dramatically reducing the time that contaminants can stay in the lubricating oil. IOW Group has improved the sealing between the dirty oil inlet and the cleaned oil outlet. This ensures that there is minimal cross-contamination between the two. IOW Group bypass oil filtration centrifuges have dirt/sludge monitoring technology, which informs the operator when the centrifuge system needs cleaning, saving valuable personnel time on otherwise unnecessary cleaning. The system can be either MODBUS or Bluetooth compatible and can be easily connected to your existing alarm systems.
Only the best bypass oil filtration system will do!
When considering a bypass oil filtration system, you need to consider the technology’s features, advantages, and benefits. What makes the IOW Group bypass oil filtration system the market-leading centrifugal bypass filter?
- Bowl Disc Technology – Increasing efficiency by removing even more contaminants. The only pressure-powered centrifuge of their size to use bowl disc – usually associated with much larger centrifuges – allows the IOW bypass centrifuge filters to remove significantly more small particles than any other competitor.
- Fully Sealed Centrifuge Bowl – Reduced risk of cross-contamination between cleaned and dirty oil.
- Remote Monitoring – Provides operators and systems with valuable insight into its speed, cleaning, and service requirements. The IOW bypass centrifugal filter is the only product on the market that provides operators with a choice of remote monitoring. Remote monitoring helps the operator ensure that the disc centrifuge runs optimally. This reduces servicing man hours and increases productivity.
- Distributor Impeller – Eliminates back pressure by drawing in contaminated oil. Lube oil enters the bypass centrifuge at the base of the oil cleaning centrifuge and, while spinning, draws the oil into the centrifuge by the distributor impeller. This reduces the risk of back pressure causing cross-contamination and increases the centrifuge bowl (rotor) speed.
- Increased Centrifugal Force – Higher centrifugal force produces a higher separation efficiency.
Clean lubricating oil (clean oil) is the lifeblood of your equipment, and keeping it clean can mean the difference between a smooth-running machine and a costly breakdown. IOW Group is a world leader in centrifugal bypass filter technology. To learn more, visit our IOW Group bypass centrifugal filter webpage or IOW Group’s bypass oil filtration website.