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Understanding compressor oil

A mechanically complex piece of equipment, to function effectively, compressors cannot be lubricated by just any type of oil. Compressor oil has been specially developed over time, combining in-depth research and testing to create additives that give the oil the unique properties required to do its job effectively, ensuring the compressor it lubricates is always operating at optimum performance.

What are compressor oils made of?

Compressor oils typically combine an oil stock base with specific synthetic, non-synthetic or sometimes semi-synthetic additives. As well as delivering heat absorption and lubrication, compressor oils also work to prevent premature wear and tear, contamination, and corrosion. The carefully balanced blend of additives included in a specific product is tailor-made to the compressor it will be used to lubricate, considering both ambient conditions and equipment requirements. These additions fortify the compressor oil with a host of beneficial properties, such as viscosity when at low temperature, demulsification, anti-wear, anti-foaming, and resistance to oxidisation.

Equipment-specific lubricants

Machinery operators may sometimes consider why they can’t use a generic lubricant or simple motor oil in their compressor, but compressors are mechanically complex pieces of equipment that can often be required to work in incredibly challenging conditions. This is why the top equipment makers producing compressors collaborate closely with market-leading oil manufacturers such as Fuchs, Mobil, and Shell. They work together using their expertise to undertake extensive research and testing to develop specific additive packages, created to suit all product solutions they supply.

Unlike compressor oils, generic lubricants are generally produced to service a wide range of unrelated machinery that typically has lubrication requirements that are less demanding. This means that they will be lacking in the essential properties required to reach the peak performance demands of air movement equipment.

Built for purpose oils

Carefully formulated compressor oils work can effectively with refrigerants and at extreme temperatures because of their impressive thermal stability. On top of this, the formulas created for compressor oil have no trouble withstanding intense pressure and operating efficiently in environments that depend upon carbon dioxide refrigerants being used. These properties make them a perfect fit for both large-scale refrigeration equipment and air conditioning units.

When formulas are developed for compressor oil, additives are deliberately excluded if they possess properties that could negatively impact the equipment they are lubricating. For example, additives that tend to precipitate when used in extremely low temperature environments, or allow deposits such as sludge to build up and contaminate a system, would not feature in compressor oil.

Getting the most from your equipment

Understanding the need for employing a purpose-built oil in your compressor for lubrication can prolong the life of your equipment considerably. Using the correct compressor oil will not only lead to far less maintenance and repairs, with unwanted breakdowns easily avoided, but will also reduce the wear on individual parts and harm caused by rust and debris. A well-lubricated compressor using the right kind of oil will also be far more productive, always functioning at top performance.

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