[206] Automated microscopical wear debris analysis

T Nowell

Intertek Farnborough, Fuels & Lubricants Centre, Cody Technology Park, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 0LX, UK
. Tel: 44 (0)125 392099 / 44 (0)7917 577201; Email: tim.nowell@intertek.com 

A number of methods have previously been developed to enable microscopical analysis of oil-wetted wear debris. The main drawbacks of these techniques are the need for a level of expertise and experience by the operator, as well as being time consuming. Recent developments of techniques enable automation of both optical and electron microscopy examination of wear debris particulates. These methods can give results ranging in size, morphology and composition of the samples, as well as providing classification of the results based on preset parameters. This technology can tie in with particle counting/sizing standards such as ISO 4406 and ISO 4407. There is also an advantage over automated particle counter systems, primarily because there are no air or water bubbles within the sample, plus accurate measurement of elongated particles and fibres and larger particulates is achieved. This paper proposes to explore current microscopical techniques, the advantages over other methods and how the results can be used to assess rotating equipment health.