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Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? #4807861
07/07/18 04:44 PM
07/07/18 04:44 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,594
Planet Earth
2015_PSD Offline OP
2015_PSD  Offline OP
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,594
Planet Earth
We have likely discussed this ad nauseam (or not), but one cannot help but wonder why the size range in UOA tests is not extended or has a separate stage for at least two size ranges of particles. Case in point, when I drained the factory oil from my GLC, it was very pearlescent when swirled in the sun. This indicates to me there is a considerable amount of metal which was not trapped by the oil filter. For clarity, I have witnessed this scenario with every vehicle I have ever owned so it is not unique to my GLC.

I will assume that factory Mercedes-Benz oil filters have efficiency ratings inline with most other OEM filters, perhaps something on the order of 90% @ 30-40um. A further assumption is the particles that I saw in the oil are too small to be trapped by the filter, but equally too small (or too large) to be picked up by the UOA test—else the PPM quantities would be higher for the wear metals in the test results.

Based on the above, I have three questions for thought:

1. Do you agree or disagree there is more metal in the oil than the tests reveal?

2. Do you think the metal is too small to cause wear thus the current particle size range is sufficient?

3. Do you think changing the UOA test results to capture the quantities of the particles obviously present in the oil would be of value?

Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4807902
07/07/18 06:17 PM
07/07/18 06:17 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 1,307
US
JLTD Offline
JLTD  Offline
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 1,307
US
New vehicle UOAs always show higher wear metals....so some percentage of those smaller particles are detected.

To answer your questions---

1) Probably. Testing can only detect down to a certain size. There is a cost effectiveness there, costs more to detect smaller particles.

2) IMO any metal causes wear as it adds friction. Pardon the comparison, but a sandblasting effect.

3) Cost effectiveness, no. UOA tests are at a level where they provide an appropriate level of diagnoosis. I am sure that those smaller partciles could be detected but for the bulk of UOAs that level of discrimination isn't required.


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Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4807910
07/07/18 06:36 PM
07/07/18 06:36 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,408
PA
d00df00d Offline
d00df00d  Offline
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Posts: 11,408
PA
Originally Posted By: 2015_PSD
1. Do you agree or disagree there is more metal in the oil than the tests reveal?

Yes. Without question.


Originally Posted By: 2015_PSD
2. Do you think the metal is too small to cause wear thus the current particle size range is sufficient?

As this question is stated, the answer is likely no.

But I think what you really mean is, do UOAs catch particles in the most consequential size range? If that's what you meant, then AFAIK it depends how you intend to use the UOA. As I understand, ICP spectroscopy (the most common method used in UOAs for wear metals) catches particles in the size range most closely associated with very early-stage mechanical problems -- but mechanical problems that are further along tend to chuck out bigger particles, which you'd need other analysis methods to catch (e.g. rotrode, ferrography, particle count, etc.). So, an ICP-based UOA is good for catching wear IF you start it when the engine is in good shape and get a trend -- but if you don't have that trend info and need to make an assessment with a one-off UOA, you need a different tool (and it'll still have a lot of uncertainty).


Originally Posted By: 2015_PSD
3. Do you think changing the UOA test results to capture the quantities of the particles obviously present in the oil would be of value?

Absolutely. The question, as always, is how much value for how much cost. And that depends on the situation, as well as the budget available.


2008 BMW M3
Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4807913
07/07/18 06:45 PM
07/07/18 06:45 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 26,177
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Garak Offline
Garak  Offline
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 26,177
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
1) Quite possibly.
2) Not enough information to answer, since we don't have the size.
3) As already mentioned, there is the issue of cost effectiveness. How much are we willing to pay?

Of course, there are always the usual qualifiers. Is an early change beneficial or detrimental or neutral? Does the condition we observe in the factory fill matter in the grand scheme of things? I wish I knew the answers, but these are the questions the keep BITOGers up at night. wink


Plain, simple Garak.

2008 Infiniti G37 - Shell ROTELLA T6 Multi-Vehicle 5w-30, NAPA Gold 7356
1984 F-150 4.9L - Quaker State GB 10w-30, Wix 51515
Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4807916
07/07/18 06:48 PM
07/07/18 06:48 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 16,183
OH
fdcg27 Offline
fdcg27  Offline
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 16,183
OH
First off, what you might find in the FF of any engine is of no significance.
There will be some residual machining debris as well as wear-in particles.
FF UOAs typically feature horror show metals levels which are really of no concern at all.
Remember that we're talking about parts per million here so a small absolute difference looks huge.
Now, can you get more accurate results for various particle sizes?
Yes, you can pay more to have particle counts done.
You'll see a few such UOAs in that forum. Not many, since this does involve a fair bit more money, but it can be done and those UOAs can be viewed.
Remember too that UOAs are mainly useful as a measure of oil condition and can be used to help determine appropriate drain intervals. They aren't really a good tool for measuring engine wear.
Also, some engines shed very little metal while others normally shed a lot.
If you compared a UOA from an SBC with one from a four cylinder timing belt Honda, you'd swear that the Chevy was in its death throes. It wouldn't be since it simply normally sheds more metal.


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Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: fdcg27] #4807922
07/07/18 07:11 PM
07/07/18 07:11 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,594
Planet Earth
2015_PSD Offline OP
2015_PSD  Offline OP
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,594
Planet Earth
Originally Posted By: fdcg27
First off, what you might find in the FF of any engine is of no significance.
There will be some residual machining debris as well as wear-in particles.
FF UOAs typically feature horror show metals levels which are really of no concern at all.
Remember that we're talking about parts per million here so a small absolute difference looks huge.
Now, can you get more accurate results for various particle sizes?
Yes, you can pay more to have particle counts done.
You'll see a few such UOAs in that forum. Not many, since this does involve a fair bit more money, but it can be done and those UOAs can be viewed.
Remember too that UOAs are mainly useful as a measure of oil condition and can be used to help determine appropriate drain intervals. They aren't really a good tool for measuring engine wear.
Also, some engines shed very little metal while others normally shed a lot.
If you compared a UOA from an SBC with one from a four cylinder timing belt Honda, you'd swear that the Chevy was in its death throes. It wouldn't be since it simply normally sheds more metal.
For clarity, I am thinking past the FF, but it is a great example of the theoretical weakness of a UOA and yes, I am aware they cannot be reliably used to measure wear, but what I am suggesting is that with a few fundamental changes could they be? Also, the PPM reading is based upon certain sized particles--the ones which may actually need to be counted may not be in the PPM reading. I have done several particle counts and I am not sold on that as a way to measure wear either since they simply place a sharper lens on the same results already taken. I am not saying you are wrong by any stretch, but I am thinking quite a bit out of the box.

Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: Garak] #4807923
07/07/18 07:14 PM
07/07/18 07:14 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,594
Planet Earth
2015_PSD Offline OP
2015_PSD  Offline OP
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,594
Planet Earth
Originally Posted By: Garak
1) Quite possibly.
2) Not enough information to answer, since we don't have the size.
3) As already mentioned, there is the issue of cost effectiveness. How much are we willing to pay?

Of course, there are always the usual qualifiers. Is an early change beneficial or detrimental or neutral? Does the condition we observe in the factory fill matter in the grand scheme of things? I wish I knew the answers, but these are the questions the keep BITOGers up at night. wink
Agreed; but I am also thinking past the FF such that if there were a couple of ranges of particle sizes tested we MAY have a better tool to measure wear, but I also concede there are a zillion variables to it. For the cost, I think it would depend if all of the metal that is seen is smaller or larger than what is already captured in the test. Smaller is likely more cost whereas larger may not be. One would think in this day and age of computer controlled everything, that we would be able to improve the UOA past oil health.

Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4807953
07/07/18 07:52 PM
07/07/18 07:52 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 26,177
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Garak Offline
Garak  Offline
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 26,177
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Yes, I'd suggest there would be interest, and possibly some valuable information there.


Plain, simple Garak.

2008 Infiniti G37 - Shell ROTELLA T6 Multi-Vehicle 5w-30, NAPA Gold 7356
1984 F-150 4.9L - Quaker State GB 10w-30, Wix 51515
Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4807962
07/07/18 08:04 PM
07/07/18 08:04 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 6,465
...
PimTac Offline
PimTac  Offline
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 6,465
...
It has been noted that some engine just shed more metal than others. It’s not a sign of a bad engine, just a characteristic. Some manufacturers may have different materials or alloys, different casting and production methods.

This throws another aspect into the mix.


Cannot see signatures any longer so it doesn’t matter.
Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4807967
07/07/18 08:17 PM
07/07/18 08:17 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,268
Upper Midwest
kschachn Offline
kschachn  Offline
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,268
Upper Midwest
I've posted this graph before, it is lifted from a Machinery Lubrication article I ran across. Note the upper limit of size detectable by emission spectrography and where it falls on their threat graph.

When I ran AA and KF on oil analysis in college for our automotive engineering and fluid power departments, we were often told that for the most part anything that showed up in a standard (non-digested) analysis was not in and of itself damaging to the equipment since the particle size that was detectable was too small to cause damage. They instead used the analysis to look for trends or for spikes to very high levels to indicate impending failure. I'm no expert, but I do chuckle here when I see people saying M1 causes "wear" when an analysis shows 18ppm of iron instead of 6. Some of the bad samples we tested would show wear metals in the several thousand ppm range. These days with ICP the detected range might be different than with AA, I don't know. I do know ICP has a much hotter plasma and a higher residence time than with the old AA so is likely to be able to vaporize larger particles.

We always performed an acid digestion on our samples, that gave a rough indication of larger and potentially damaging particles in the samples. We'd run the analysis on both the as-received sample and the digested one and compare the results. If you got a much higher reading on the digested sample that indicated a high incidence of relatively large particles.



1994 BMW 530i, 238K
1996 Honda Accord, 266K
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2000 Toyota ECHO, 280K
Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: JLTD] #4807973
07/07/18 08:31 PM
07/07/18 08:31 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,268
Upper Midwest
kschachn Offline
kschachn  Offline
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,268
Upper Midwest
Originally Posted By: JLTD
New vehicle UOAs always show higher wear metals....so some percentage of those smaller particles are detected.

To answer your questions---

1) Probably. Testing can only detect down to a certain size. There is a cost effectiveness there, costs more to detect smaller particles.

2) IMO any metal causes wear as it adds friction. Pardon the comparison, but a sandblasting effect.

No, emission spectrography (ICP or AA) can only detect up to a certain size. In fact, it is the single atom that is detected. It's the large particles that require further processing of the sample prior to analysis.

And very small particles do not add friction or cause wear, they just exist in the oil like any of the other metallic atoms present in formulated motor oil.


1994 BMW 530i, 238K
1996 Honda Accord, 266K
1999 Toyota Sienna, 407K
2000 Toyota ECHO, 280K
Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4807998
07/07/18 09:14 PM
07/07/18 09:14 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 1,824
The land of USA-made Subies!
SubieRubyRoo Offline
SubieRubyRoo  Offline
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Posts: 1,824
The land of USA-made Subies!
KS, I hadn't seen that article before, but I didn't even think about SEM-EDX testing for oil analysis. We have it done when something ends up on our final product and don't know what it is, but it makes sense. The lab usually tries to wash it off into solution with alcohol or another solvent, and then transfers the solution into the machine and reads it out. I'd imagine doing this test on oil would help skip a couple steps since it's already liquid. Used in this manner, SEM-EDX is quite limited in its scope because it gives you elemental breakdowns and you must have a reference sample for them to compare and see if it is the same compound; I will have to ask the lab guys if they can actually do particle counts on it. I may send them a sample from my next UOA just to see what all they can tell me.

And for the cost-benefit side, when we have to send out an SEM-EDX sample, it's likely $600-700 total by the time you get the analysis and their report on what is or isn't in your sample. So no, I don't see any casual UOA springing for that type of analysis, even if it tells you all kinds of neat information. That cost represents a lifetime's worth of oil changes for some vehicles!

Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4808002
07/07/18 09:29 PM
07/07/18 09:29 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,096
Fredericksburg, VA
JAG Offline
JAG  Offline
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Posts: 5,096
Fredericksburg, VA

Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: 2015_PSD] #4808006
07/07/18 09:32 PM
07/07/18 09:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 7,109
Waco, TX
Linctex Offline
Linctex  Offline
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 7,109
Waco, TX
Originally Posted By: 2015_PSD
when I drained the factory oil .... it was very pearlescent when swirled in the sun. This indicates to me there is a considerable amount of metal which was not trapped by the oil filter - - - I have witnessed this scenario with every vehicle I have ever owned so it is not unique...


I have also noticed this multiple, MULTIPLE times.

It is one of the main reasons I added a bypass oil filter.


"The evidence demands a verdict".
(Re:VOA)"it's nearly impossible to actually know the particular additives that are in there at what concentrations."
Re: Extend UOA Test Particle Size Range? [Re: Linctex] #4808052
07/07/18 11:02 PM
07/07/18 11:02 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,470
Texas & Global
4WD Offline
4WD  Offline
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,470
Texas & Global
Originally Posted By: Linctex
Originally Posted By: 2015_PSD
when I drained the factory oil .... it was very pearlescent when swirled in the sun. This indicates to me there is a considerable amount of metal which was not trapped by the oil filter - - - I have witnessed this scenario with every vehicle I have ever owned so it is not unique...


I have also noticed this multiple, MULTIPLE times.

It is one of the main reasons I added a bypass oil filter.


Same here and I will always be a 1k on FF owner …
On the subject of UOA … who would you bet has the more sophisticated lab and personnel:
1) Blackstone
2) CVX, RDS, XOM etc …


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