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U.S. Navy Experiences Coking of Lube Oil Purifier Heaters

[+] Author Affiliations
Walter Rauf, Russell Philipp

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia, PA

Paper No. GT2009-60057, pp. 977-989; 13 pages
doi:10.1115/GT2009-60057
From:
  • ASME Turbo Expo 2009: Power for Land, Sea, and Air
  • Volume 4: Cycle Innovations; Industrial and Cogeneration; Manufacturing Materials and Metallurgy; Marine
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, June 8–12, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4885-2 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3849-5

abstract

Normally U.S. Navy ships operate their lubricating oil systems with oil that is clear to light amber in color. Recently, many ships have reported the presence of dark oil and, in some cases, burgundy colored oil. Laboratory analysis of the affected oil has shown that the lube oil has been stressed due to heat. In at least three cases, the flashpoint and the viscosity of the oil were significantly reduced as compared to the samples analyzed from ship’s storage tanks. In one particular case volatile aromatics were discovered possibly indicating that pyrolysis is taking place. In an effort to determine the cause of the heat stress a hand-over-hand tracing of the system was accomplished. Subsequently, the lube oil purifier heater was inspected and coking of the heating elements was discovered. Approximately 65% of the ships inspected have reported fouling of the heating elements ranging from a tar-like substance to severe coking. A land-based lube oil purifier heater was configured to operate in the same manner as a shipboard unit. This unit was instrumented to collect oil and sheath temperature data to aid in determining the temperature within the heater that may cause the lubricating oil to form coke. In addition, laboratory testing is also being conducted to determine the oil’s tendency to coke and at what temperatures the pyrolysis will begin to take place. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the ongoing investigation, results of data collected, the laboratory testing and engineering solutions to minimize or eliminate lube oil coking.

Topics: Navy

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