Now that you have invested in a centrifugal as your compressed air solution, it is important to understand the differences between using a full synthetic compressor lubricant and a general-purpose lubricant. The difference between the two options may surprise you.
A general-purpose, mineral oil is derived from crude oil. Full synthetics also typically start as mineral oil but are chemically modified and engineered to suit the needs of a centrifugal air compressor, allowing cleaner machine operation, better protection for compressor parts, extended fluid life, and lower operating costs.
Unlike mineral oil, which can include a variety of impurities, a full synthetic compressor lubricant has a much higher purity and does not contain crude oil by-products that are natural starting points for varnish and deposits.
Synthetic lubricants also have greater flash points than mineral oils, allowing your compressor the ability to run hotter and longer in higher temperature conditions as well as helping to keep your machine healthy during critical demand periods. A natural result of this purity is decreased energy consumption.
Using a full synthetic is going to give you a significant reduction of rust, corrosion, and varnish. In a centrifugal, varnish buildup is the enemy to your bearing surfaces. It is imperative that those surfaces remain varnish-free. A clearance drop in the bearing clearances or varnish deposits on an impeller can lead to increase temperature, which, in turn, can lead to damaged bearings, loss of efficiency, or disruption of airflow.
Average mineral oil provides up to 8,000 hours of protection while a blend will offer up to 16,000 hours. A full synthetic will generally give you up to 24,000 hours of fluid life, extending plant maintenance intervals. Even if the initial cost of the lubricant is somewhat higher than mineral oil, the extended fluid life, along with the other benefits of the full synthetic, add up to the most cost-effective solution.
A common myth in the industry is that synthetic oil is too expensive to use in the long run and does not provide a return on investment. In reality, the benefits a synthetic compressor lubricant offers to not only to your machine but also your overall operations make up for any cost difference.
In the long term, operators that opt to run their centrifugal air compressor with full synthetic are able to decrease maintenance costs by providing better protection of compressor parts and extending change-out intervals. As mentioned above, decreased energy consumption adds up to more cost savings.
Regardless of the type of lubricant used in your compressor, quarterly fluid analysis is vital to assess the health of your machine and prevent additional maintenance costs and downtime. Using a full synthetic lubricant and testing the fluids quarterly are key steps in ensuring a long life for your centrifugal.
Learn more about the benefits of a full synthetic centrifugal lubricant and our fluid analysis service.