The Science Behind Fluid Particle Counters

For hydraulic systems, hydraulic fluid contamination is a detrimental element that could cause your machinery to go out of commission. In fact, such cases of contamination are the leading cause of an early breakdown of hydraulic components. Due to the failure of these hydraulic components, it leads to expensive repairs and costly downtime.

By implementing a hydraulic fluid particle counter, workers are able to monitor your machinery and perform regular maintenance and checks to ensure contamination doesn’t take hold.

Here is the breakdown of hydraulic fluid particle counters and how their utility could save users thousands of dollars.

What Causes Contamination ?

Particle contamination is usually caused by the existence of foreign debris which cannot be seen by the naked eye. There are two sources from which the said debris may come from. The first comes from environmental debris that originates from outside of the machine. The second most common reason comes from the internal workings of the machine. When the machine operates at full capacity for any given length of time, wear and tear is to be expected. However, as parts of the machine move against one another as the machine operates it can cause tiny yet dangerous fragments to become loose.

While these particles might be miniscule and perhaps easily overlooked, they can easily become hazardous to the machine. When studied up close, such debris has jagged edges and that can easily wreak havoc on your machine if not addressed. The problem is only compounded when there is a sizable collection of these particles causing an eventual mechanical failure.

Furthermore, when there is a buildup of debris, it can cause damage and diminish the ability for the machine to utilise oil. In fact, some statistics estimate that more than three-quarters of all hydraulic breakdowns are caused by the long-term accumulation of debris.

Another downside of contamination is that it leads to increased energy consumption by the machine. Due to the presence of particles, it leads to increased friction and diminishes the ability of the machine to perform even with the application of industrial-quality lubricants. With the machine needing to work harder, more power is needed to make the machine run smoothly. This leads to the unnecessary consumption of energy and higher costs. Additionally, increased friction caused by particles leads to the need for more lubricants. Thus, this causes further wastage and added costs.

What Are Hydraulic Fluid Particle Counters?

Since contamination is an unavoidable occurrence, the best way to combat it is to install preventative measures. Hydraulic fluid particle counters are one such defence against particle contamination. These instruments are incredibly intuitive and are superior to other types of fluid analysis equipment on the market due to their speed and top-tier precision at weeding out particle contamination.

The hydraulic fluid particle counters can determine the nature and intricate make-up of any liquid that enters. By analysing the data from the particle counters, workers can take countermeasures before permanent damage is done, saving on replacement part costs. In fact, employing the use of a hydraulic fluid particle counter is considered one of the easiest and cost-effective and proactive ways to maintain the integrity of your machine.

There are multiple variations of said countermeasures, some mobile and some fixed to one location. Portable units are often installed on-site to ensure liquid cleanliness in heavy machinery.

How Hydraulic Fluid Particle Counters Analyse Contamination 

Hydraulic fluid particle counters use light to shine through the liquid as it passes through the detection chamber. Hence they employ the principle of light extinction as a means of searching for and illuminating contaminant particles in the hydraulic fluid. From there, the counter can use three methods to determine contamination. These methods are light scattering, light obscuration, and direct imaging.

1.  Light Scattering Particle Counters

In this technique, a highly focused beam of light passes through the detection chamber. Particles passing through the chamber will deflect light in a “scattering effect” that increases light intensity. Subsequently, the sensor on the other side will detect this change and convert it into data regarding the level of contamination. This is one of the most used methods used to determine and analyse the level of contamination.

2.  Light obscuration Particle Counters 

With the light scattering method focused on the presence of light, light obscuration can be considered the opposite. Using an LED light to pass through the chamber,  a diode measures how much light is lost by the particles in the fluid. When the diode which casts light onto the particle creates a shadow effect, this process is known as ‘obscuration’.

The particle counter can calculate the particle size and contamination level based on the amount of light obscured by the particle as it passes through the chamber.

3. Direct Imaging Particle Counters

Direct imaging particle counters make use of high-resolution cameras to detect particles and take photos. These images are then sent to a computer for analysis. The software is then able to shine some light on the finer details such as particle size, colour, and shape. In fact, the imaging system is also capable of differentiating particles by type. This information is then stored and used for reference at a later date. The data collected are also important for continuous monitoring efforts. The limitation to such a technique is that it is only suitable for liquids with a slow flow rate.

Obtain A Hydraulic Fluid Particle Counter Today

Hydraulic fluid particle counters are an important means of staving off the accumulation of debris in your machine which leads to premature damage and high repair costs. There are a variety of hydraulic fluid counters that you can consider for your machinery.

Convinced that a hydraulic fluid particle counter will benefit your machinery? Are you interested in learning more about the different methods that a hydraulic fluid counter can determine and analyse contamination? Click here to find more information about the types of counters Sintech Scientific has to offer.

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