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CFCS Oil Test Parameters

CFCS test parameters for performance fluids are categorized into the three components of the TriVector™. Wear parameters indicate the sources of mechanical breakdown within the equipment itself. Chemistry indicates the condition of the performance fluid itself. Contamination parameters indicate the source and level of foreign substance ingress.

Oil Test Parameters | CFCS Analytical Services Limited


Particle count - a high particle count or a rapid increase in particles can foreshadow an imminent failure.

Particle composition - it is often important to understand the elemental composition of particles in order to find out where they came from. Optical Emission Spectroscopy gives the user elemental information.

Particle type - The size, shape and opacity of particles is used to determine if they are from cutting wear, sliding wear, fatigue wear, nonmetallic or fibers. This allows operators to determine the type of wear debris, wear mode and potential source from internal machinery components.

Ferrous wear - Ferrous wear measurement is a critical requirement for monitoring machine condition. The high sensitivity magnetometer measures and reports ferrous content in ppm/ml, and provides ferrous particle count and size distribution for large ferrous particles.


OXIDATION — Oxidation of oil occurs in the presence of air (oxygen) and heat. The atmospheric oxygen reacts with the hydrocarbons in the lubricant to form carboxylic acids. These acids are weak, but given enough time the concentration can become high enough to cause severe corrosion of machinery parts. This is an inevitable process that must be monitored. To help protect the lubricant, antioxidant additives are included in almost all formulations. The additives will oxidize readily before the more important components of the oil will oxidize. Once these additives are depleted, the lubricant properties will be negatively affected. The oxidation rate varies greatly with temperature and is also affected by any contaminants (particularly metals) present in the lubricant, so keeping the oil clean, dry, and as cool as possible is the best way to manage oxidation

SULFATION — The reaction between oxygen, heat, water and sulfur from diesel fuel or base oil can create sulfurous compounds including sulfur based acids. Most of the time these sulfurous compounds are expelled through exhaust, but some may remain and make their way into the engine cavity. Sulfation occurs when these acids react with either the additives in the oil or the base stock of the lubricant. At lower operating temperature, such as during start up, the acids can condense and more readily come into contact with the oil. Sulfation can cause increased viscosity and the formation of varnish, sludge, and sedimentation.

Total Acid Number (TAN) - TAN is measured to determine the corrosive potential of lubrication oils. If the TAN gets too high the oil can induce corrosion of machine parts and should be changed.

Viscosity - The main function of lubrication oil is to create and maintain a lubrication film between two moving metal surfaces. Insuring the viscosity is within recommended ranges is one of the most important tests one can run on lube oil.



Water contamination in industrial oils can cause severe issues with machinery components. The presence of water can alter the viscosity of a lubricant as well as cause chemical changes resulting in additive depletion and the formation of acids, sludge, and varnish.


Since no engine is 100% efficient, products other than carbon dioxide and water will be formed during combustion. One such product produced from incomplete combustion is soot. Soot is a mass of mainly carbon particles that are typically spherical in shape. As soot levels rise, the soot particles begin to clump together and become more dangerous. The soot levels will continue to increase and the particles clump together until it reaches a level great enough to precipitate out of the oil. This precipitation will both increase the viscosity of the oil and attach itself to the engine surfaces which will significantly increase wear on the engine. This precipitation can also lead to filter plugging.

Fuel dilution in oil can cause serious engine damage. High levels of fuel (>2%) in a lubricant can result in decreased viscosity, oil degradation, loss of dispersancy, and loss of oxidation stability. Fuel dilution is one of the most important lubricant failure modes in internal combustion engines. It usually occurs due to improper fuel-to-air ratio. Fuel dilution can also occur due to excessive idling, piston ring wear, or defective injectors and loose connectors.

Glycol coolants break down in the high temperature engine environment, leading to formation of glycolic acids. These acids attack nonferrous bearing surfaces and form metal salts. The acids also react with the oil anti wear and anti oxidant additives and, along with water, create sludges that plug filters and cause the oil to lose its lubricity properties, thus increasing abrasive wear. Glycol contamination in engines and transmissions is considered to be a more severe contaminant than water alone (up to 10 times more damaging). Depending on the oil temperature, the glycol coolant may break down rapidly or over time. This instability is a major challenge for determining the true glycol content in the oil at a given time, and is the major reason why field and lab tests often do not agree with each other.

CFCS Standards of Measurement

The Spectroil Q100 meets the requirements of ASTM D6595 for the determination of wear metals, additives and contaminants in used Lubricating oils or hydraulics fluids by rotating disc electrode atomic emission spectrometry. It also meets ASTM D6728 for Alkali contaminants in fuels.

Lasernet 200 series Particle counter, Ferrous monitor, and wear classifier


Particle cleanliness codes, such as ISO 4406 and ASTM D6786, indicate the overall cleanliness of the oil


Ferrous Wear Severity Index (FWSI) indicates overall severity of the machine wear condition

Count of large cutting, sliding and fatigue wear, along with non-metallic particles, indicates the source of the particles

Complies with ASTM D7596 - Standard Test Method for Automatic Particle Counting and Particle Shape Classification of Oils Using a Direct Imaging Integrated Tester

Particle count, size distribution and codes (ISO 4406, NAS 1638, NAVAIR 01-1A-17, SAE AS 4059, GOST, ASTM D6786)

Total ferrous concentration per ASTM D8120

Reports large Ferrous concentration (PPM), percentage of large Ferrous particles (PLFP), Ferrous Wear Severity Index (FWSI)

Detects ferrous particles over 25 microns, equivalent circular diameter

Fluid Condition using IR Spectroscopy, compliant to ASTM D7889 measurements of water, Tan, Tbn, Glycol, soot, additive depletion, oxidation, sulfation, and Fuel dilution (ASTM D7889)

Kinematic Viscometer compliant to ASTM D8092 test method

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