Water Glycol Lubricants and Water Content Testing

Water-glycol lubricant, a type of fire-resistant hydraulic fluid, is most often used in industrial and other applications where fire resistance is crucial.

                Micheal Shaw, Eurofins TestOil Director of Industrial Services explains, “The choice between water glycol hydraulic fluids and regular hydraulic oils depends on the specific requirements and conditions of the application. For most industrial facilities or operations, fire resistance is needed and, in some cases, required. They utilize water glycols because they are operated near heat sources that could easily ignite regular hydraulic fluid.”  While fire resistance is a key advantage, water glycols have disadvantages. 

  1. They need to be continually monitored for water content since evaporation will require occasional top-offs with deionized water.
  2. If water content drops significantly, some additives may no longer remain soluble and fluid life may be impacted.
  3. Compared to oil-based hydraulic fluids, operating temperatures should be kept low.
  4. There are price considerations both with initial purchase and disposal.

                One of the most common issues with water glycol lubricants is water loss or accumulation that, among other things, alters the viscosity. Because of this, it’s especially important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and conduct regular maintenance, including fluid analysis. Top of Form

                Micheal says, “An increase in water content in a water glycol lubricant could lead to a loss of lubrication abilities, and/or a loss of fire resistance. It can also can lead to corrosion and unnecessary wear. Additionally, for most water glycols, an increase in water content can alter the viscosity of the lubricant.”

                He continues, “A decrease in water content in water glycol fluids can cause an increase in viscosity as well. In most cases, as the lubricant’s viscosity increases, fire resistance becomes non-existent, and the elevated viscosity can lead to mechanical stress on the hydraulic system.”

                There are instances where facilities have attempted to correct their water glycol lubricated asset’s water content and have made a miscalculation in the amount of water needed to return the lubricant to its water content specification, Michaeal warns, adding that another way this imbalance can happen is if the facility purchases a concentrated version of the lubricant and does not properly mix it with the correct ratios of deionized water and lubricant.

                “There is also some confusion in the industry surrounding installing the proper breathers,” Micheal says. “Most hydraulic systems should have a desiccant breather installed. However, since water glycols have water in them, desiccant breathers can strip water content from the lubricant and become clogged. This would also eventually clog the desiccant breather and prevent the asset from breathing/relieving pressure.” Micheal advises that a standard particulate breather is recommended for assets that use water glycols.

                Eurofins TestOil’s industrial service, team,  TestOil PRO , has professionals that can monitor, calculate, and make deionized water additions onsite to maintain proper water content. This is an excellent service for customers that struggle to maintain the all-important water content balance in their water glycol lubricants.

For more information on working with Eurofins TestOil for oil analysis and training visit www.testoil.com. Contact: 216-251-2510; sales@testoil.com.

About Eurofins TestOil

With more than 30 years of experience in the oil analysis industry, Eurofins TestOil focuses exclusively on assisting industrial facilities with reducing maintenance costs and avoiding unexpected downtime through oil and fuel analysis program implementation. As industry experts in diagnosing oil-related issues in equipment such as turbines, hydraulics, gearboxes, pumps, compressors and diesel generators, Eurofins TestOil provides customers with same-day turnaround on routine oil analysis testing.  For more information on partnering with Eurofins TestOil on oil analysis programs or training opportunities visit https://testoil.com. Contact: Michael Barrett 216-251-2510; sales@testoil.com. 

About Eurofins – the global leader in bio-analysis

Eurofins is Testing for Life. Eurofins is the global leader in food, environment, pharmaceutical and cosmetic product testing, and in discovery pharmacology, forensics, advanced material sciences and agroscience Contract Research services. Eurofins is also a market leader in certain testing and laboratory services for genomics, and in the support of clinical studies, as well as in BioPharma Contract Development and Manufacturing. The Group also has a rapidly developing presence in highly specialised and molecular clinical diagnostic testing and in-vitro diagnostic products.

With over 61,000 staff across a network of 940 laboratories in 59 countries, Eurofins’ companies offer a portfolio of over 200,000 analytical methods. Eurofins Shares are listed on Euronext Paris Stock Exchange.

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