Lubricant contamination is one of the leading causes of machine failure, and contamination can begin before the lubricant ever enters the machine. Gearboxes, pumps, and reservoirs have to “breathe” when the air expands and contracts, as well as when incoming fluid displaces air, or when air is drawn in when hydraulic components activate. Each time a unit breathes in, it brings with it all sorts of small debris and moisture, depending on the operating environment. Over time, the effects of this contamination can be damaging to the lubricant and to the equipment.
Water-contaminated oil can lead to additive stripping, and eventually, the water can cause corrosion and rust. Small particulates no larger than three microns (the diameter of a single human hair is 40 microns) can cause unwanted machine abrasion. All of these problems accelerate wear and lead to costly repairs. The simple solution to these problems is the use of desiccant breathers, which can stop water and particulates from contaminating the lubricant in the first place. From the time oil enters your facility to the end of its useful life, protecting it with desiccant breathers will extend the life of the oil and the equipment, decrease downtime, and save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Studies have shown that 50-70% of lubricant contamination comes from outside the equipment. Most machines are designed to “breathe,” so protecting the source of airflow from moisture and particulate contamination is extremely important. This is true for most sizes and types of machines.
Breathers are sized according to the required cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air exchange for each machine application. The desiccant beads in the breathers change color as they become saturated with moisture, indicating that the unit is spent. Desiccant breathers use filter media to remove particles and a silica-gel desiccant to remove moisture from the air entering the oil. Xclude desiccant breathers incorporate a high capture-efficiency filter to help sustain desired cleanliness levels by removing even minute particulates.
They also create low relative humidity levels in the headspace, making condensation and absorption by the lubricant unlikely. When a system is properly fitted with a breather that contains drying and filtration media, contaminant ingression is greatly reduced. Installation of desiccant breathers at critical ingression points is a cost-effective means to prevent contaminants from entering the fluid reservoirs as differential pressures occur.