Sludge presence can have far-reaching consequences :
The two most general classifications of insoluble contaminants are hard contaminants, such as dirt, debris and wear particles, and soft contaminants, composed of the various oil degradation by-products. Varnish and sludge originate from the soft contaminants. It is a thin, insoluble film that over time deposits throughout the internal surfaces of a lubrication system. The degradation process accelerates as the lubricant undergoes continued exposure to air, water, catalyst (metal particles) and high temperatures Sludge contamination is, without doubt, the least recognized as far as hydraulic equipment contamination is concerned. Fact is that sludge is present in virtually every type of hydraulic and lubricating system . Given the fact that sludge is a "soft pollutant", it is not measured during possible oil analyses. Most operators are not aware of its presence in the oil.
The consequences ....
Increased wear rates
Varnish captures hard contaminants, creating an abrasive surface that accelerates wear.
Heat exchangers become less efficient
Sludge deposit adhere to the inside of pipework, thus forming an insulating layer decreasing the cooling effect of heat exchangers.
This reduces the efficiency of the heat exchange and results in higher operating temperatures. Again this leads to increased power consumption and to faster oxidation of the oil.
The main line filters get blocked:
Sludge is sticky, resinous substance, and it therefore stays behind in the pores of filters, quickly blocking them.
This may lead to decrease in the flow rate and as a result the drive will operate more slowly. It becomes increasingly difficult for the pump to circulate the oil, leading to cavitation, higher power consumption and increased wear and tear.
The main line filters need to be replaced more frequently.
The main line filters get blocked:
Valves clog or operate badly:
The presence of resins increases friction to 5-6 times higher than nominal value.
This will result in higher energy requirements and can cause stuck or seized valves.
Reduced clearance zones affecting lubrication:
Often, this means a transition from full film to boundary lubrication, resulting in increased wear in pumps, bearings, gears and valves. Increased wear rates
Varnish captures hard contaminants, creating an abrasive surface that accelerates wear. System corrosion and accelerated degradation due to acidic constituents. Increased maintenance : Resources and costs required to clean varnished systems.
Fluid Hygiene IS IMPERITIVE
Most quality engine and hydraulic oils will keep solid contaminants (such as sludge) in suspension to a particle size of 3-4 microns. When the particles combine to a size greater than this the contaminant will fall out of suspension to be deposited in the sump / tank or other areas of the engine / hydraulic system, with resultant detrimental effect on the qualities of oil and engine / hydraulic system performance.
To meet today’s demanding performance, emissions and fuel economy requirements, the latest generation of diesel engines use advanced electronic fuel injection systems with injection pressures in excess of 35000 psi - 10 years ago injection pressures rarely exceeded 3000psi. With injector nozzle opening as small as 2-3 micron, they are designed to deliver a precise quantity of fuel, in a well defined spray pattern with an injection cycle lasting around .005 second.
To achieve this reliably, clean fuel is vital.