An oil sample is mixed first with a solvent and then with argon gas to form a fine mist. This mist is introduced into a plasma flame. Elemental metals present in the sample will emit energy in the form of light when introduced to the plasma. Each element emits light at known wavelengths. By measuring the intensity of the light emitted at these known wavelengths the calibrated instrument can determine the concentration in ppm for the metallic elements present in the sample.
Monitoring the concentration of metallic elements can provide important information regarding machine and lubricant condition. By monitoring wear metals such as iron, copper, tin and lead rates of wear can be observed and abnormal wear modes can be detected. Many contaminants have metallic components which can be monitored as well. Increases in contaminant metals such as silicon, aluminum and potassium can indicate ingression of dirt, coolant or process contaminants. Some additives also have metallic components. Monitoring additive metals can help indicate when a system has been topped off with the incorrect lubricant.
This test can be performed on industrial and automotive lubricants. Water based lubricants require special handling and are tested twice per week.
|Iron (Fe)||Shafts, Gears, Housing, Piston Rings, Cylinder Walls|
|Copper (Cu)||Brass/Bronze Alloys, Bearings, Bushings, Thrust Washers|
|Lead (Pb)||Bearings, Anti-Wear Gears|
|Tin (Sn)||Bearing Alloys, Bearing Cages, Solder|
|Aluminum (Al)||Pumps, Thrust Washers, Pistons|
|Chromium (Cr)||Roller Bearings, Piston Rings, Cylinder Walls|
|Nickel (Ni)||Pumps, Gear Platings, Valves|
|Titanium (Ti)||Exotic Alloy|
|Silver (Ag)||Some Bearings|
|Magnesium (Mg)||Detergent Additive, Coolant Additive|
|Silicon (Si)||Dirt, Defoamant Additive|
|Boron (B)||Anti-corrosion in Coolants|
|Sodium (Na)||Detergent Additive, Coolant Additive|
|Barium (Ba)||Rust and Corrosion Inhibitors|
|Calcium (Ca)||Detergent/Dispersant Additive|
|Phosphorus (P)||Anti-wear Additive, EP Gear Additive|
|Potassium (K)||Coolant Additive|
|Molybdenum (Mo)||EP Additive|
|Zinc (Zn)||Anti-wear Additive|
|Vanadium (V)||Turbine Blades|