Dangers of Undetected Wear Debris in Oil

Not all metallic wear is the same.  But whatever the type or cause, undetected wear debris has the potential to disrupt operations and cause costly repairs to vessels if not detected early enough.

Corrosive wear

As the name suggests corrosive wear occurs on sliding surfaces in a corrosive environment, and is common in ships – especially those powered by diesel engines that use fuel with a high sulphur content.  The combustion products combine to form sulphuric acid, which damages cylinders and piston rings.  High temperatures and humidity, and metals with insufficient resistance to corrosion are other contributory factors.

Adhesion, which is a form of ‘cold’ welding, and contact fatigue, caused by cyclic stress over a long period of time, are two further types of wear.

Wear debris analysis

While catching faults early enables decisions about remedial work to be more effectively planned, it is also important to find out precisely where the fault originates.  Wear debris analysis allows engineers to examine the wear mechanisms of machinery without taking it apart.  The fragments of debris will indicate which elements of the machine are damaged and also the nature of the problem causing the damage.

Ferrous Wear Debris Sensor

The Parker Kittiwake Ferrous Wear Debris Sensor will flag up any changes to the wear pattern at a very early stage, minimising damage to the vessel.  This highly sensitive piece of equipment can detect wear particles which other products find too small.  Extensively used at sea, it works seamlessly alongside existing monitoring systems and complements any laboratory oil analysis programmes already in place.

ATEX Metallic Wear Debris Sensor

The ATEX Metallic Wear Debris Sensor is identical to our Metallic Wear Debris Sensor but has been certified for use in hazardous areas.  It is the first of its kind to be approved for use in ATEX zones 1 and 2, the collective term for European directives controlling explosive atmospheres, and provides real-time wear debris count for both non-ferrous and ferrous wear metals.  It can be mounted within any lubrication system and uses magnetometry and smart algorithms to calculate particle size, speciation (which refers to the distribution of one or more chemical elements within all possible compounds) and count.


The LinerSCAN monitors the iron content in two-stroke marine engine oil.  It offers remote date logging, reporting and alarm functions.  Scuffing is detected within seconds, which allows almost instant corrective action.  It can also give early warning of problems associated with the highly abrasive catalysts (known as ‘cat fines’) that have to be removed from oil residues after the refining process – problems that are likely to become more frequent as demand for low sulphur fuel increases.

Ferrous Wear Meter

The Ferrous Wear Meter (FWM) is an easy-to-use instrument for testing oil samples onboard where off-site laboratory analysis is not possible.  In common with the products we have just described and also with our ANALEX FdMplus and other technology in our Ferrographic Lab range, it reports in industry-standard parts per million (ppm) values which makes for straightforward comparisons with subsequent laboratory test results.

For more information about wear debris and oil analysis contact us today on 01903 731470.