The Importance of Bench Testing in the Marine Industry

Feb 4, 2022
Posted by Harriet Brice, Technology Manager, Marine Engine Oils, Denise Rice, Project Specialist, Marine Engine Oils

Topics: Marine

Bench tests are critical in the development of new marine lubricants. They are used to investigate quality, offering the ability to check an oil’s performance in specific areas such as storage stability and acid neutralization on a much smaller and quicker scale than running a full-scale ship field trial.

When developing formulations to comply with new specifications and different base oils, it is critical to understand bench testing. It enables the formulator to get a good indication of how the lubricant will perform when placed into a full-scale ship field trial and reduces the risk of engine damage or breakdown.

Watch the video to learn more.

For more information, please contact your Lubrizol representative.

Video Transcript

The purpose of bench testing in the marine industry. I think one of the main things we look at is product development, so this is screening new formulations or we're changing the base oil.

The bench tests are really good at giving us indicative performance direction, in that sense, we're looking at how the bench test result compares to a reference result that we have previously, or if it's within a specification.

Yeah, it's important to look at the whole suite of bench test, not just one individually to see how it compares with that reference. 

There's a number of reasons why we're looking to improve a formulation or adapt the formulation in some way,and this is usually driven by regulatory changes from either the chemical side of things or driven by the marine industry itself and thinking there of the emissions legislations that we're moving towards for 2030 and 2050.

But then there's also changes that might happen, possibly within the engine and within the fuel that might need is also to change the formulation, changes in pressure and changes in temperature. Can absolutely impact the thermal robustness of the formulation. 

The other area we use the bench tests for is product integrity. It's really important that we put a new product into the market that it's going to stand up to all of the challenges, whether that's long term stability or any kind of water contact.

One of the really important things to look at would be the storage stability, so looking at the new impact of that chemistry over time to see if anything reacts or drops out. So for manufacturing plant then we're looking at if there's an issue or a problem we'll get a sample to look at any sort of production issues that might occur, if we've got things in the field, we'd like to monitor those as well.

When we think about the limitations of bench testing, many of them are just evaluating the thermal degradation of the lubricant, which is really important because we don't want the lubricant itself to contribute to deposits in the engine, but we want to try and bring in more of the aspects of the conditions that they're always going to experience during combustion.

Some of the things that we've been thinking of is how do we bring more of those elements into the bench tests? and how can we modify them to make it more realistic to those conditions?

So, we're just looking at one parameter at a time. Temperature generally is one of the easiest ones to replicate, so we have a number of tests we can focus on particular areas of the engine and replicate the temperature in that area for the bench tests. And we can also look at the flow of oil as well. You can try and mimic the flow oil of oil in that area to better represent the experience the oils having in the field, so we're looking at viscosity, we’re looking at deposits, Acid neutralization isn't neutralized. TBN - TBN gives an indication of the amount of acid that the lubricant can neutralize., TBN is critical for marine, because there's so much acid produced in the engine,

We tend to make our lubricants all over based so that that can absorb some of the acid that's forming so it doesn't in turn damage any part of the engine.

The marine fuels still contain up to 5000 PPM of sulphur. Lubricants today still need to ensure that it's not contributing to corrosion of the liners or the piston rings, which can end up in engine failures, and these engines cost a heck of a lot of money. Yeah, the cost of replacement parts is considerable, so we want to make sure that the lubricant is doing the best job to prevent that corrosion.

Benefits of bench testing, I think the main one is really they are quick to produce and give us a good indication straight away. There's such a vast array of bench tests that you can get a really good indication of the performance of the fluid before you move on to additional testing and the OEM approvals. 

We want to scream a lot of different options. Yeah, and the bench tests are readily available. We can make modifications as we want to give us that confidence to move forward into the next stage of testing, whether that being stationary engines or in the full-scale field trial.

It's important that we get a really good picture and enable us to do it really, really quickly. That's the main benefit.