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TERM PAPER : FLUID CONDITIONING

SUBMITTED BY:
SARTHAK MURAAL 2009ME20679 G01 PRASHANT 2009ME20673 G01

MEL 334

FLUID CONDITIONING Introduction

Fluid conditioning or purification is the removal of contaminants such as air/gases combined with filtration to remove particulate (solid contaminants) from any fluid. It is a relatively a straightforward and cost-effective approach to make these fluids suitable for continued use thus extending their service life and reducing the waste stream. Fluid conditioning is critical in maintaining proper operation of a hydraulic system. Conditioning means to change the physical characteristics of fluid. Fluid conditioning is an essential step to ensure reliability of any hydraulic and lubrication systems since it not only enhances the performance of the fluid, but also helps in protecting system components, which results in increased productivity. If we take any fluid water is one of the most commonplace contaminants due to its ubiquitous nature and ability to ingress into the system. Given enough time, it will dissolve any organic or inorganic material. It surrounds foreign particles, such as minerals, entrapping them. Water may be present in the base fluid in any or all of its three forms: free, emulsified and dissolved, and each can damage the fluid and the system components. Aeration of hydraulic and lubrication fluids can be caused by a myriad of reasons including poor system design, fluid degradation, suction side air leaks, etc. Fluid aeration is undesirable since it affects the response and control of hydraulic actuators, causes cavitation of valves and pumps, and results in loss of lubrication film, reduced fluid viscosity, dieseling (adiabatic compression of air bubbles resulting in thermal degradation of the fluid) and accelerated oxidation of the fluid. In the case of gas compressors and internal combustion engines, gases from the process are introduced in the lubrication Fluid causing chemical and physical degradation of the lubricant. In the case of gas compressors, where hydrocarbons blow by piston rings, the blow by gases can result in dilution of the fluid, and reduced viscosity and flash point. There exist various types of conditioning methods which includes mechanical, physio-chemical separation, or magnetic conditioning each with some advantages and disadvantages. For fluid conditioning some devices are used in the hydraulic system known as fluid conditioners, such as filters, heat exchangers, etc. Heat exchangers are used for regulating the temperature of fluid. As heat transfer fluids deteriorate over time there is a buildup of VOCs which has an adverse effect on the flammability of the fluid, lowering the flash and fire points to potentially unsafe levels. To prevent silting, early component wear, and eventual system failure, engineered filtration is required. Engineered filtration includes: understanding required micron rating, application of the beta ratio, maintaining proper ISO code cleanliness levels, filter location. These filters remove physical contaminants also known as complexes. Filtration

devices are used to filter particles out of the systems fluid. A filters efficiency is rated with a beta ratio. The beta ratio is the number of particles upstream from the filter that are larger than the filters micron rating divided by the number of particles downstream larger than the filters micron rating.

FLUID CONDITIONING METHODS


Methods commonly employed for the purification of the fluids include dry air purge coalescence centrifugation absorbent filtration settling (settling tanks) mass transfer vacuum dehydration flash distillation vacuum dehydration.

Methods such as centrifugation and coalescence rely on purely mechanical means, based on phase separation. Whereas flash distillation vacuum dehydration methods use a more aggressive approach, employing flash evaporation of the volatile contaminants including water at temperatures well above those normally found under standard system operating conditions, and at significantly reduced pressures, the mass transfer vacuum dehydration method, on the other hand, employs moderate level of vacuum and virtually little or no additional heating. The technique is referred to as mass transfer because it predominantly relies on the transfer of water into a steady stream of dry air under moderate vacuum and temperature conditions. The intent of this paper is to compare and contrast the various technologies employed for removal of water and other volatile contaminants from hydraulic and lubricating systems, and to examine the impact of vacuum and temperature on the chemical and physical properties of the hydraulic and lubricating fluids. Mechanical separation methods that include settling, coalescence, absorbent filtration, and centrifugation are limited to the removal of free and emulsified water. Mass transfer and flash distillation type vacuum dehydrators, on the other hand, remove not only the free water but also the dissolved water, free / dissolved air and other gases, and lighter hydrocarbons, solvents and refrigerants. Dry air purge will not remove dissolved air but will strip dissolved non-environmental gases, lighter hydrocarbons, solvents, and refrigerants, in addition to free/dissolved water. Following is a brief discussion on each of the commonly used fluid conditioning method.

Coalescers Coalescers remove free water entrained in the oil phase by capturing and coalescing water droplets into larger droplets and separating them from the oil phase. Specific gravity, viscosity, and interfacial tension of the fluid are key parameters in the process. Levels as low as 10 ppm free water can be obtained with influent conditions of 10 % water by weight and an interfacial tension of 2 dyne/cm and higher. Coalescers tend to disarm (become ineffective) in the presence of surface-active agents in the fluid. Coalescers also need fine filtration for protection against fouling by solid contaminants. The process is most effective with low viscosity fluids. Centrifugal separators Centrifugal separators utilize the difference in specific gravity between the fluid and the water for the separation. Industrial centrifuges are designed to generate centrifugal forces on the order of 3,000 to 10,000 times higher than gravitational force, hence speeding up the separation of water by the same magnitude as compared with gravitational separation, for example, in a settling tank. Centrifuges can also remove some emulsified water depending upon the relative strength of the emulsion vs. the centrifugal force of the separator. Centrifugal separators do not remove dissolved water. Centrifuges are well suited for applications where continuous decontamination of fluids with excellent demulsibility (water separating characteristics) is required. Water absorbent filters Water absorbent filters remove free and emulsified water by super absorbent polymers impregnated in the media of the filter cartridge. The water is absorbed by the polymer, causing it to swell, and remains trapped in the filtration medium. Super absorbent filters can remove only a limited volume of water before causing the filter to go into pressure drop induced bypass. They are not well-suited for removing large volumes of water, but are a convenient method to maintain dry conditions in systems that dont normally ingest a lot of water. These filters do not remove dissolved water. Mass transfer vacuum dehydration Mass transfer vacuum dehydration type purifiers work on the principle of mass transfer of the liquid and gaseous contaminants from the oil to a constant stream of dry filtered air under vacuum. The process, using techniques such as sheet-metal rings, nozzles, spinning disc, etc. generates a large surface area of the fluid. The vacuum draws ambient air into the chamber,

expanding the air volume several times consequently decreasing its relative humidity by the same ratio. Flash distillation vacuum dehydration High vacuum / heat purifiers (flash distillation vacuum dehydration) utilize higher vacuum and temperature conditions inside a chamber to rapidly boil off water and other volatile materials. Flash distillation type equipment is often operated at vacuum and temperature conditions that are well within the vapor phase region of the plot for faster removal of water.