Click to download the one-page pdf detailing how Cambridge Viscosity helps refineries avoid compressor failures.
Chris Seeton is widely considered to be an expert in the compressor/refrigerant industry. He has the notable distinction of being the person who won the first battle that allows new low global warming refrigerant regulations to come into effect by serving as the Global Technology Leader at Honeywell and leading the industry’s effort to replace R134a with R1234yf which came to fruition in 2015 (an EPA CAFÉ credit of 13.8 gCO2/mile or ~3 mpg per vehicle by just changing the refrigerant). Even today, he continues to drive change in the industry by leading two cooperative research project groups through SAE on developing new heat pump systems for electric vehicles.
Air conditioning systems use refrigerants to do the job of cooling an indoor space. These refrigerants, in the form of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), potentially contribute to climate change, and are currently being phased out of use in the United States. The phaseout approach, which was initially started in 2010, gives manufacturers time to develop ozone-friendly refrigerants as an alternative.
Did you know we have a global representative network that supports Cambridge viscometers all over the world? We decided to reach out to a few of them to get their thoughts on the compressor industry. The first rep we talked to is Suzhou TAIEN, who is responsible for viscometer sales and support in China.
When it comes to air conditioning and compressor systems, achieving ideal operating efficiency is about balance. Too much lubricant means the compressor or cooling system won’t cool properly, and too much refrigerant increases bearing wear and reduces the system life. Thicker oil lubricates better, but it also means there is an increase in drag, and more power is needed to rotate the compressor. Manufacturers must consider all these variables when manufacturers designing their equipment. Each new design requires significant testing to ensure performance and energy efficiency.
When compressor manufacturers design a new compressor model, part of the process includes determining the type of refrigerant and the accompanying lubricating oil, which is necessary to reduce friction on metal parts, reduce wear on the compressor, and extend the life of the system. The company must conduct extensive testing to ensure proper energy efficiency and functionality. The lubricant has a significant impact on the performance of the compressor. Over-lubrication can impact the compressor’s ability to cool properly, but too much refrigerant will lead to more wear and a shorter compressor lifecycle.
Managing lubricant viscosity is essential to maintaining the health of a compressor in a process plant, because a single compressor failure can cost $10,000 a day or more in lost revenue. Considering it’s another $10,000 to rebuild a compressor, or more than $100,000 to replace a compressor, maintaining the health and performance of compressors is important.
Boston—Machinery failures, downtime and maintenance labor costs can kill a refiner’s bottom line profits. A major US oil company with refinery installations in North and South America has installed several Cambridge Viscosity VISCOpro viscometers to monitor oil viscosity, providing engineers with real-time information on oil quality. The viscometers utilize Cambridge’s 392 process sensors and are Class 1 Div 1 Group B, C, and D certified.
Boston—Danfoss Compressors is using a Cambridge Viscosity small sample viscometer to test refrigerant and oil mixtures at their Tianjin, China factory.
The viscometer includes the Cambridge VISCOpro2000 electronics and SPL 571 lube oil viscometer sensor with multiple piston ranges to test compressor performance using new combinations of lube oils and refrigerants. The lower the viscosity of this mixture, the more efficient the compressor is. However, if viscosity is too low, the compressor can wear out prematurely. By achieving the optimal balance of efficiency and lubricity, the company can improve compressor performance while using more environmentally friendly refrigerants.
Danfoss engineers cite the viscometers’ ease-of-use, robust functionality and high degree of accuracy among the chief reasons for their use. The VISCOpro2000 enables users to monitor critical fluid processes and capture real-time data. The addition of the 571 sensor—used extensively for compressor, used oil analysis, on-engine and hydraulic fluid applications—provides for installations where form factor and small sample volume are important. “Danfoss was restricted in the amount of area they had, and Cambridge’s miniature lube oil viscometer is the perfect choice when limited to tight spaces,” explains Cambridge Viscosity China Agent Miker Wang of Suzhou TAIEN.
Cambridge’s viscosity management technology is based upon a simple and reliable electromagnetic concept. Two coils move the piston back and forth magnetically at a constant force. Proprietary circuitry analyzes the piston’s two-way travel time to measure absolute viscosity. A built-in temperature detector (RTD) senses the actual temperature in the sampling chamber. Constant in and out motion keeps samples fresh, mechanically scrubs the sampling area and provides excellent viscosity tracking.
About Cambridge Viscosity
Cambridge Viscosity, a leader in small sample viscometer systems for laboratory and process environments, designs automated viscometers used worldwide in petroleum, exploration and refining applications to ensure accurate viscosity in both lab and operations. Cambridge’s worldwide reach is important for providing application engineering support and service wherever and whenever needed.
Cambridge Viscosity’s sensors and viscometer systems conform to ASTM, DIN, JIS and ISO standards, with a range of models designed to meet specific industry and application needs.
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Boston—Cambridge Viscosity compressor viscometers have become the refrigerant industry standard worldwide. Compressor manufacturers are always looking for ways to improve their products and enhance energy efficiency, while also using more environmentally friendly refrigerants. Viscosity is an important metric, as the ideal refrigerant blend allows for optimal output of the compressor.