Size analysis of wear particles absorbed in oil. Large particles are examined in detail, depending on their concentration, to explain their provenance.

A Formula 1 engine contains approximately 900 moving parts, most of which are separated by a thin oil film to prevent them from touching eachother (for instance the main bearings, piston ring - cylinder). For that purpose, the Formula 1 engine is equipped with a lubrication system with approximately 10 litres of oil, of which seven litres are continuously in circulation (circulation time approximately 15 seconds!). The lubrication system not only ensures lubrication but also to a large extent the cooling, because heat is conducted away through the oil to the oil coolers and from there to the outside air.

When the pressure in the oil film is sufficient to carry the load, without the help of contact forces, the components are full film lubricated. With full film lubrication, friction is limited to viscous shearing in the film, in which the friction forces are very low (μ=0.001-0.01). The machine will consequently use much less energy and be subjected to a smaller thermal load. Of the total loss of friction in a Formula 1 engine, a staggering 80% is caused by viscous shear, which means direct contact hardly ever takes place.

Periodic oil testing can provide early detection of oil degradation. It is important to keep accurate records of test results to highlight unusual trends. This procedure allows the prevention of premature equipment failure due to oil deterioration and estimation of the remaining service life of the oil. Oil analysis forms the basis of Condition Based Maintenance. Oil analysis is subdivided into chemical and physical analysis of oil and the analysis of wear particles...