Selecting an aviation grease is only one part of the job. The other part includes understanding how these greases maintain their aircraft worthiness and the contributing elements. It's vital for operators to make ideal selections from the base, viscosity, and thickening agents. In this article, we’ll discuss a few determining factors for aviation grease selection and how to keep your aircraft airworthy.
Primary Role of Aviation Lubrication
At its core, lubrication reduces the wearing and friction of the components it's applied to. No matter the application, this is a lubricant’s primary objective and premise. In aviation, lubrication and greases go a long way in maintaining and supporting the engine, components, and vital functions of each working element. Sealing, cleaning, and cooling the engine and its components are vital for operating aircraft of any size and nature. In addition to combating corrosive behaviors and rusting in the engine, keeping the interior housing of the engine free of corrosion is vital to ensure safety and aircraft integrity.
The frequency of use for aircraft also plays a role in the lubrication demands. When parts don't receive a lot of use, they are at risk of rusting. In contrast, when aircraft are used often and regularly, the maintenance execution and use of grease are easier to sustain, resulting in decreased downtimes and rust issues.
Benefits of Lubricant Engine Cleansing
It's essential to note that all aviation fluids clean the engine and its relative components. This can include notables such as varnish, sludge removal, and eliminating grunge from plugs, the pan, and screens. Other items related to aviation engine cleansing include improved combustion and control and a cleaner ring belt. These beneficial aspects aid engine efficiency and reduce overall oil consumption.
The ring belt's status is another primary benefit of lubricant in the engine and helps maintain cleanliness. Dirty grooves lead to an inability to seal correctly and sufficiently. The outcome of this is wearing, scuffing, or scarring on the cylinder's walls and a complete change in the component's pressure.
Cooling Factors With Aviation Greases
Oils and fluids play a great role in engine cooling techniques. The composition of oil controls the heat transfer process in engines. In a typical automotive engine, the oil controls about 40 percent of the engine's cooling. This percentage must be higher in aviation engines to transfer heat thoroughly and cool the engine's components.
Some of the most critical functions in aviation oil are the lubrication’s capacity and ability. The grease must meet or exceed various features to sustain engine demands. The oil must have proper baseline factors, viscosity indexing or thickness values, and additives for accurate mechanical functions. Additionally, it must comply with industry and manufacturer standards. We’ll explore these various ingredients for aviation greases and oils and how they contribute to keeping aircraft airworthy.
Determining Base Oil Factors
A major step in determining which grease suits your aircraft is defining the base oil factors and how compatible they are. It's worth noting that the oil will provide lubrication to the plane and components, not to be confused with the grease doing this job. The plane’s primary applications will help operators and engineers determine the most compatible base oil, whether that’s a synthetic or mineral blend. From there, they can determine the viscosity or thickness and improvement factors.
It's critical to refer to the aircraft's specified oil needs. Outside of these requirements, there are a few things to know about synthetic compared to mineral blends. Synthetics develop from esters, meaning they perform well over a wide range of temperature environments. This works in instances of extremely high or low-temperature values with unpredictable factors at the root. Mineral blends are petroleum products and tend to be less destructive to seals than synthetics.
Oil Viscosity Index
The oil's viscosity index relates directly to the thickness of the greasing agents and how soft or stiff they may be. Why does this matter? Essentially, the thickness of the oil will impact how well it can transfer heat, penetrate the engine and various components, and lubricate the necessary features of the interior and housing. Once heat comes into the equation, the viscosity index can vary, and this plays a role in mechanical breakdown or productivity.
The working stability of grease is how well it maintains its thickness while working for a specific aviation application. It's relatively common for aviation greases to contain and sustain indexes around 300, plus or minus 20. This value is referred to as the working penetration and signals to engineers and operators how well the grease can sustain at the desired viscosity index throughout operations.
Certain thickening agents contribute to a grease's viscosity, but they do not play the role of lubrication in any capacity. Instead, they serve as a sponge to the oil's compounds. The thickening agents convert the oils to a solid or semi-solid form with the right amounts of applied pressure. There are two main categories for thickening agents, including non-soap or soap-based. The following determines the two categories:
- Soap-based agents include compounds such as lithium, sodium, aluminum, or calcium. The soap forms from fatty acids reacting to the presence of alkalis or hydroxides.
- Non-soap-based agents form on the basis of clay or silica gels. However, clay is the primary substance.
Each thickening agent has various limiting factors and benefits. Engineers and operators use a series of qualifying parameters to determine the best agent, should one be necessary to the original viscosity indexing.
Additives for Integrity
Aviation greases contain various additives that ensure and benefit the oil's performance. Corrosion inhibition and antioxidants are vital to the integrity of the additive’s and grease's performance. These additives often get worked through the base and thickening agent to ensure premium combination rates and success. This means each and every step in aviation grease selection must be considered carefully, regardless of aircraft intent.
Santie Oil Aviation Solutions
Santie Oil Company is the premier partner of aviation greases and components. We carry industry-leading brands and compositions with our world-class customer service team. Partner with us today to receive a custom quote and inventory review.