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Pump Wisdom: Chapter 7: Lubricant Types and Key Properties

Pumps & Operations
Pump Wisdom Chapter 7 Lubricant Types and Key Properties

Pump Wisdom: Chapter 7: Lubricant Types and Key Properties

Explore key facets of centrifugal pump ownership, installation, operation, and troubleshooting

The Second Edition of Pump Wisdom: Essential Centrifugal Pump Knowledge for Operators and Specialists delivers a concise explanation of how pumps function, the design specifications that must be considered before purchasing a pump, and current best practices in lubrication and mechanical seals.

This new edition also contains new startup and surveillance tips for pump operators, as well as repair versus replacement or upgrade considerations for maintenance decision-makers, new condition monitoring guidance for centrifugal pumps, and expanded coverage of operator best practices.

ReadChapter 6: Lubricant application and cooling considerations.

When and why high film strength synthetic lubricants are used

Quality lubrication includes sound and risk-free application method, proper lube quantity, appropriate oil type and viscosity, properly storing and handling the lubricant, attending to bearing housing contamination issues, and implementing appropriate oil change intervals.

To summarize good lubrication practices: we must choose the right oil, take proper care of it, and change it before bearings are harmed. Improvements in lubricant quality can only be achieved by utilizing oils with superior lubricating properties. These would be premium synthetics.

Even among prominent synthetic lubricants, oil performance can vary greatly based on the amount and composition of additives in the oil. For process pump bearing lubrication at least one company combines synthetic base oils including PAO (poly-alpha-olefin) and dibasic ester base stocks with advanced additive chemistry so as to realize greater film strength (Chapter 7, Ref. 4).

Numerous incidents have been documented where advanced lubrication technology has significantly improved pump reliability. In the majority of cases, advanced lube technology with its often more favorable (lower) coefficient of friction results in reduced bearing operating temperatures. Micro-cracks in bearing surfaces cause increased noise and vibration; suitable high film strength oils will fill these micro-cracks. This then lowers noise intensity and reduces vibration severity (Chapter 7, Refs. 1 and 3).

High film-strength lubricants also lessen the probability of lube oil darkening during the running-in period of bearings with brass or bronze cages. There have been reported instances of high frictional contact during the initial run-in period of the copper-containing material recommended–for its other qualities–by API-610. If the net axial thrust action on one of the two back-to-back oriented bearings causes it to become unloaded, it may skid.

1. Bloch, Heinz P.; (2009) “Practical Lubrication for Industrial Facilities”, 2 nd Edition, Fairmont Press, Lilburn, GA 30047, ISBN 0-88173-579-5
3. Bloch, Heinz P. and Allan Budris; (2009) “Pump User’s Handbook: Life Extension”, 3 rd Edition, Fairmont Press, Inc., Lilburn, GA, 30047,
4. ISBN 0-88173-627-9. Morrison, F.R., Zielinsky, J., James, R.; “Effects of Synthetic Fluids on Ball Bearing Performance”, ASME Publication 80-Pet-3, February 1980.

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