Engineers Develop Optical-Based System for Monitoring Oil Quality
8 April 2014
Engineers at the University of Saarbrücken, Germany, have worked together with colleagues from other universities and from industry to create a novel optical-based system that keeps track of the condition of lubricating oils, hydraulic oils and other fluids in industrial systems. The innovative technique could help industrial plants avoid unnecessary oil changes and cut back on non-essential laboratory costs while contributing to the environment.
The system, which can also predict the best time for an oil change and perform all its other functionalities without affecting ongoing operations, employs laser diode-based optical techniques to analyze the oil's chemical components and the extent of particle loading.
One of the approaches used by the engineers involves targeting the liquid being monitored with light from a laser diode, which is scattered by any components present in the oil or fluid. As the different types of particles scatter the light in a different way, the researchers are able to measure more or less light in various spatial directions, record the scattered light with the help of photodiodes and analyze the signals.
The second optical method employed by the researchers measures the absorption of infrared light by the fluid at certain wavelengths as it travels through the measurement system, allowing the researchers to determine the chemical state of the oil, as chemical changes to the oil result in changes in the light spectrum, as well as the presence of water in the oil, said engineer Eliseo Pignanelli, who contributed to the system's creation.