Lubricant manufacturing giants like Shell, Fuchs and Castrol design specialist solutions to suit equipment, machinery and vehicles used in a wide range of applications. Along with many other sectors, built-for-purpose fluids and oils have been engineered specifically for use by those in the power plant industry.
To answer the unique challenges faced by companies operating in this industry, comprehensive ranges featuring produced fluids are formulated that include highly specialised additives. Working closely with their customers, lubricant makers use their expertise and experience to coordinate the use of the products to ensure their associated benefits are optimised.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the different types of lubricants that are commonly used by the power plant industry.
These oils are crucial for protecting a wide range of transmission systems when power plants require smooth and seamless performance from their equipment. Power plant vehicles may require gear oils for their manual gear box or extreme pressure (EP) gear oils for industrial gearbox systems in working machinery
These advanced solutions often use a carefully selected base oil that is then enhanced with an additive, allowing the gear oil to be used under heavy loads and under extreme pressure. As a result, EP gear oils can cope with the severe operating conditions and environmental challenges faced by equipment used by the power plant industry.
Hydraulic oils and fluids act as a medium that can transfer power in hydraulic systems like those used in hydro-electric and wind power operations. Typically, hydraulic oil has a high-quality mineral oil as a base and, like gear oils, includes specific additives to enhance or suppress its specific attributes. Hydraulic fluids are utilised in a wide variety of equipment, including power steering systems, elevators, lifting equipment, hydraulic brakes, transmissions and other industrial machinery.
To add active service life to power plant machinery, hydraulic oils are commonly designed with anti-wear properties. These oils are engineered employing a base of petroleum with an additive that is zinc-based for its anti-wearing property. The additive can work hard under pressure and protects key components like hydraulic pumps.
Hydraulic systems used in power plant facilities must often operate at extreme temperatures and under excessive forces. To safeguard plant operators and maintenance crews performing hydraulic systems checks, many hydraulic fluids are produced that have fire-resistant properties. These fluids use specialised polyol-ester or water-glycol formulas and offer outstanding thermal and hydrolytic qualities known to help operations keep their people safe with advanced fire resistance.
Power plant operations must cope with a wide range of corrosive forces due to operational and environmental conditions and the materials involved in production. Wherever metal machinery and components are present on site, a risk of corrosion exists and, if it takes root, can cost companies in terms of profits. Power plants are also under pressure from environmental and health regulators and legislation to minimise disposal and workplace hazards while reducing their carbon footprint contributions.
As a result, specially formulated corrosion preventatives have been developed to help companies combat these threats and improve their performance for health, safety and environmental issues. A wide range of options are offered to operations, including neat corrosion preventive oils, solvent-based corrosion preventives, dewatering fluids and aqueous corrosion preventives.
At power plants, dedicated turbines generate energy by employing the movement of high-pressure fluids at high speeds involving wind, steam, water and gas. However, to make sure turbines can perform constantly under extreme temperatures and stress, they require high-quality lubricating oils.
Expert manufacturers create turbine oils that are formulated to deliver exceptional performance, protecting gas, hydro and steam and turbines from an extensive array of issues including metal wear and corrosion. As a result, operations in the industrial, power and energy sectors can optimise their productivity onsite and lower their overall maintenance costs.
Lubricating oils and greases for power plants
Finally, operators of coal-fired operations and other power plants also require high-quality lubricating oils and greases to keep equipment running at optimum performance. Offering protection from wear, excessive heat and pressure, these solutions also defend against contaminants and keep multiple systems onsite clean and clear of corrosives like rust.
More adhesive than oils, greases can remain in place for longer and are suitable for numerous applications. Lithium-based greases offer power plants many benefits, from potential energy savings to reducing operating temperatures. Some greases will include special additives that give them advanced wear protection along with an exceptionally low friction co-efficient even in extreme operating conditions. Other products may be suited to environments where excessive moisture is present and have water resistant capabilities.
To conclude, whether a coal-fired plant requires hydraulic or turbine lubricants or a hydro or wind power plant needs specialist greases and oils, the correct products are available for every application.