A recent online survey of power industry professionals from across the globe found that more than 65 per cent of those polled believe that gas turbine lubrication maintenance has a significant effect on their company’s profitability.

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“At Shell we have been undertaking lubrication research continuously since 1940 and working in close partnership with OEMs to help our customers tackle productivity and efficiency challenges in their operations. We then take the expertise we develop through these partnerships and apply it in a way that benefits all our customers.”

Wear reduction of moving parts and prevention of bearings failure top the ranking of the most important issues related to the lubrication of gas turbines – 93.8 per cent of respondents.

This finding is not surprising considering the essential role a lubricant plays in any turbomachine, i.e. to effectively enable parts, such as bearings, to move against other components/surfaces without resulting in degradation of either.

Over recent years turbine users have reported issues related to mild to severe lube oil ‘varnishing’ in their systems. Varnish can appear as a thin orange, brown or black film deposit on the interior of lubricant systems. The problem has been seen in most types of turbines using many different turbine oils. Varnish formation in turbine oils represents a serious performance problem for end users. A costly concern is the formation of varnish on thrust or journal bearings, which can cause increased wear rates and potentially a change in lubrication regimes, increasing the severity of the oil stress and potentially accelerating oil degradation.

Interestingly, 87.3 per cent of those polled also said improving turbine efficiency and performance was another ‘very important’ or ‘important’ deliverable from a gas turbine lubricant.

The survey also asked what qualities they looked for in a lubricant supplier. Ninety-one percent said reliable delivery, closely followed by good customer service (84.1 per cent). Offering oil conditioning monitoring services also ranked highly. With an increasing number of utilities outsourcing their plant maintenance it is not surprising to find that customer service and the offer of additional value-added services have become a priority.

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